HILL AIR FORCE BASE — President Barack Obama is expected to announce today an initiative to train 75,000 people to work in the solar energy industry, including military veterans.
The goal is part of the administration's effort to drive growth in the solar industry while also supporting veterans.
Obama, who arrived in Utah on Thursday night, is scheduled to talk about his energy plans at Hill Air Force Base this morning before flying back to Washington.
The White House has recognized Salt Lake City as a "Climate Action Champion," resulting from a competition to identify local climate leaders and provide federal support to help communities' energy conservation efforts.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is spearheading solar development in the city, including a 1 megawatt solar farm and the new state-of-the-art, net-zero public safety building. The two projects are estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by 3 million pounds per year.
The city also will join the president’s Better Building Challenge, committing to improve the energy efficiency of 1.6 million square feet of public and private buildings over the next decade.
According to Obama's initiative, the Department of Energy would train 75,000 people to enter the solar workforce by 2020, some of whom would be veterans. DOE and the Defense Department are teaming up to launch Solar Ready Vets programs at 10 military bases across the country including Hill, which has already installed solar panels on the base.
The initiatives are designed to continue to reduce carbon pollution and create good paying jobs, according to the Obama administration.
The administration will also seek approval to use the GI bill for solar workforce training, which would allow veterans to participate in a job-driven program through local community colleges to gain skills to work in the solar industry.
In addition, the Department of Labor would work with the Defense Department to ensure that transitioning service members are made aware of the training program in the last months of their military service.
The plans are designed to build on Obama's efforts to curb pollution. They would help reach the administration's target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, a goal that was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change earlier this week.