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 AlexanderOvernight Regulation: Trump's Labor nominee hints at updating overtime rule Trump's Labor pick signals support for overtime pay hike Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE (R-Tenn.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDems get it wrong: 'Originalism' is mainstream, even for liberal judges Human rights leaders warn against confirming Gorsuch Feinstein sees slipping support among California voters: poll 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 BlumenthalSenators introduce new Iran sanctions Senators demand Pentagon action after nude photo scandal Gorsuch rewrites playbook for confirmation hearings MORE (D-Conn.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Overnight Regulation: Senate moves to strike Obama-era internet privacy rules Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs MORE (D-Mass.), Michael BennetMichael BennetUnder pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Senators introduce new Iran sanctions MORE (D-Colo.), Tim KaineTim KaineSenators demand Pentagon action after nude photo scandal RNC drops six-figure ad buy for Supreme Court, healthcare fight Lawmakers want Trump commitment to help Iraq post-ISIS MORE (D-Va.) and Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSpeculation grows over Trump FCC pick A Justice Gorsuch will defend religious Americans from persecution Dem to Trump: 'You truly are an evil man' 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.