President Obama launched a program Friday to train outgoing military personnel and veterans to work in the solar power sector.

He announced the initiative Friday at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, which has solar panels on site and uses them to provide 20 percent of its electricity. The White House first unveiled the program earlier Friday.

{mosads}The president used the speech as an opportunity to boast about the success of the solar power sector, and sell it as a prime opportunity for military veterans. He toured the solar installation before the speech.

“The solar industry is adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy,” Obama said, quoting 2014 employment figures. “They’re good-paying jobs that are helping folks enter in the middle class. And today what we’re going to try to do is to build on the progress that’s already been made.”

Obama said Hill Air Force Base and the entire Department of Defense, which is the country’s top energy user, is leading by example in terms of renewable energy through efforts like on-site installations.

“Our military across the board is becoming more and more efficient, because that saves money, and it means that we’ve got more money for personnel, for training, for equipment, for making sure our fighting forces are able to get the job done,” he said.

The training program, called Solar Ready Vets, is a key part of Obama’s new goal to create 75,000 new solar jobs by 2020, 25,000 more than the previous goal.

The Department of Energy is operating the program. The Department of Veterans Affairs will push states to allow solar training programs to be eligible for GI Bill funds, and the Department of Labor will work to get solar employment information to outgoing military personnel.

Obama said the efforts will create jobs, grow the economy and make the country and planet more secure, while also helping the environment.

Before the speech, Obama participated in a roundtable discussion at the base on clean energy. Guests at the discussion included Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and military and private-sector officials. 

Tags Department of Energy Orrin Hatch Rob Bishop Solar power Veterans

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