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.

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 AlexanderObama meets a crossroads for his healthcare law Music streamer Spotify joins Gillibrand’s push for paid family leave GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-Tenn.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinAirbnb foes mobilize in Washington Top Dem: Russia trying to elect Trump Sanders, Dem senators press Obama to halt ND pipeline 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 BlumenthalOvernight Healthcare: Biden hints at new money for cancer research | Trump details opioid plan | Dem urges feds to reject EpiPen settlement Dem calls on DOJ to reject EpiPen settlement Why Yahoo's breach could turn the SEC into a cybersecurity tiger MORE (D-Conn.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeySanders, Dem senators press Obama to halt ND pipeline Senate Dems ask Obama to block Atlantic, Arctic offshore drilling Federal agency under fire for selling recalled cars MORE (D-Mass.), Michael BennetMichael BennetSenate poll raises Republican hopes in Pennsylvania, Florida Podesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs GOP Senate candidate reverses course, says he’ll vote Trump MORE (D-Colo.), Tim KaineTim KaineClinton: Trump's election talk poses 'threat to our democracy' Miley Cyrus knocks on doors for Clinton Kaine: Clinton 'looks damn presidential' MORE (D-Va.) and Charles SchumerCharles SchumerImmigration was barely covered in the debates GOP leaders advise members to proceed with caution on Trump Senate Dems demand answers from Wells Fargo over treatment of military 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.