Source:  North American Windpower, June 21, 2018

Author: Betsey Lillian

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A newly introduced bipartisan bill aims to help U.S. veterans gain training and credentials to secure jobs in the fast-growing sectors of the low- and zero-carbon-emissions energy industry.

U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., have introduced the Energy Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2018, which is designed to help ease the transition back to civilian life for servicemembers and strengthen the economy by connecting employers in solar, wind, nuclear and cyber energy industries with veterans.

“I am proud to partner with Sens. Graham and Bennet on this bipartisan legislation to help servicemembers transition back to civilian life and find good-paying jobs in clean, renewable energy,” says Duckworth. “Our bill will provide servicemembers and veterans with the training they need to work in some of our nation’s fastest-growing industries while also helping clean energy companies – which already employ veterans at high rates across the country – find highly skilled and dedicated workers as they experience exponential growth and provide more of our nation’s energy supply.”

“I’m very excited to be a part of this effort to do two great things for our country: help veterans find jobs and boost the clean energy economy,” says Graham. “If there was ever a win-win, it is this bill. I’m really pleased to be working with Sens. Duckworth and Bennet on this important legislation.”

“For years, we’ve worked to ensure veterans are equipped to enter the clean energy industry, especially in Colorado,” adds Bennet. “This bipartisan bill will create a pathway so our veterans, who have put their lives on the line for our country, have the necessary skills and training to compete in our 21st-century economy. We’re encouraged by the administration’s commitment to prioritize this legislation.”

During a Senate committee hearing in March, Duckworth received a commitment from Rick Perry, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) secretary, to work on advancing the legislation.

Specifically, the bill would direct the DOE to partner with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop an “Energy Ready Vets Program.” The program would be led by an administrator with military experience and would offer veterans and members of the Armed Forces six-month internships to gain hands-on training. It would also establish a labeling program that recognizes companies that are hiring graduates of these programs in order to encourage them to hire veterans.

Citing the DOE, the senators say veterans currently make up 11.5% and 11.1% of the wind and solar workforces, respectively.

Supporting the newly proposed bill is the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). In a statement, Bree Raum, AWEA’s vice president of federal affairs, says, “AWEA endorses the Energy Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2018 and applauds Sens. Tammy Duckworth, Lindsey Graham and Michael Bennet for their leadership in helping veterans enter the energy workforce after serving their country. The wind industry is proud that we hire veterans at a rate that is 72 percent higher than the national average. This legislation will help us welcome even more of our nation’s heroes into the American wind energy workforce.”