Senate Dems want to double size of solar training program for vets

Six Senate Democrats are asking their colleagues to double the capacity of a new Obama administration program that trains outgoing military personnel for the solar power industry.

Obama launched the program in April with a goal of expanding what started last year as a pilot program at three military bases to 10. It’s part of Obama’s goal of training 75,000 solar workers, including veterans, by 2020.

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The team of Senate Democrats like it so much they want it to expand. If they have their way, the Energy Department would get enough money to run the program at 20 military bases.

“Solar Ready Vets connects our nation’s skilled veterans to the solar energy industry, preparing them for careers as solar photovoltaic system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar related occupations,” the Democrats wrote to Sens. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderTenn. senator blasts 'intolerable increase' in ObamaCare prices GOP Rep. Black wins primary fight GOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinCelebrating the contributions of the National Park Service at its centennial France, Germany push for encryption limits Lochte apologizes for behavior in Rio MORE (D-Calif.), the leaders of the Appropriations Committee panel that sets the Energy Department’s budget.

The letter was signed by Sens. Richard BlumenthalRichard Blumenthal'Power problem' grounds southern Florida flights Dem senator's daughter could face Congress over EpiPen price hike Airlines brace for boost in travel volumes over Labor Day MORE (D-Conn.), Ed MarkeyEd Markey'Power problem' grounds southern Florida flights Dem senator criticizes Facebook, Instagram for gun sales Apple, Google enlisted for FCC robocall effort MORE (D-Mass.), Michael BennetMichael BennetThe Trail 2016: The Battle for Blue Poll: Grassley, Bennet holding off challengers in Iowa, Colorado McAuliffe: I wouldn't want a 'caretaker' in Kaine's Senate seat MORE (D-Colo.), Tim KaineTim KaineWasserman Schultz dodges question about DNC emails Kaine tweets with the cast of 'Veep' Kaine responds to Trump tweet on Dwyane Wade’s cousin MORE (D-Va.) and Charles SchumerCharles SchumerTrump was wrong: Kaine is a liberal in a moderate's clothing Trump poised to betray primary supporters on immigration Rubio primary challenger loans campaign M MORE (D-N.Y.).

“We strongly believe that a program with a proven record of employing veterans in high quality jobs in a fast growing industry critical to improving our energy independence and reducing carbon pollution is a worthwhile endeavor,” they said.

The senators did not say how much it would cost to double the size of the initiative.

Solar power is one of the fastest growing industries in terms of employment in the country, with 10 times the job growth of the rest of the economy, the federal government says.

The Energy Department estimates that one out of every 78 new jobs last year was in the solar power industry and that those jobs will grow 20 percent this year.