Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner today reintroduced the Energy Jobs for our Heroes Act to help veterans gain the training and credentials necessary to secure opportunities in the clean energy sector. The bipartisan legislation would help ease the transition back to civilian life for servicemembers and strengthen the economy by connecting employers in the fast-growing solar, wind, nuclear, and cyber energy industries with talented, highly-skilled veterans.
“The Energy Ready Vets Program will ensure veterans, who are already uniquely qualified to succeed in cutting-edge industries, have the necessary skills and training to compete in the 21st century economy,” Bennet said. “Our bill builds on the work states like Colorado have been doing for years to support servicemembers transitioning to civilian life and to create more pathways for workers to enter the clean energy industry.”
“I’m a strong advocate for advancing clean energy solutions, and this important bipartisan legislation not only strengthens our renewable energy sector, it also bolsters opportunities for qualified Veterans to transition into the civilian workforce,” Gardner said. “Military experience provides invaluable education, leadership and education skills and this bill will help connect our heroes with this rapidly expanding sector of our economy.”
The bipartisan Energy Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2019 would direct the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to partner with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to develop the “Energy Ready Vets Program” to provide veterans with training and credentials to secure good-paying jobs in the low-carbon and zero-carbon emissions sectors of the energy industry, such as wind, solar, and cyber-energy fields. The program would be led by an administrator with military experience and offer veterans and members of the Armed Forces six-month internships to gain hands-on training and skills. It also would establish a labeling program that recognizes companies that are hiring graduates of these programs to encourage them to hire veterans.
Bennet first introduced the Energy Jobs for our Heroes Act in June 2018 with U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), following a commitment received in March 2018 from Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to work on advancing the legislation. Last year, the Senate unanimously passed a Bennet-Gardner-Duckworth amendment included in the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill to lay the groundwork for the Energy Ready Vets Program. That amendment required DOE and DOD to evaluate which military installations could effectively partner with colleges and private companies to train veterans and servicemembers to enter the cybersecurity, energy, and artificial intelligence workforces.
The U.S. military has been a leader in developing clean energy technology. The Army, Navy, and Air Force have set a goal, which the Navy has already achieved, of developing one gigawatt of renewable energy to power their installations by 2025 – enough to power about 700,000 U.S. homes. As a result, many servicemembers and veterans already have the technical skills that make them qualified for the wind and solar industries, both of which employ veterans at higher rates than the rest of our economy. According to DOE, veterans make up 11.5% and 11.1% of the wind and solar workforce respectively.