March 26, 2019

Duckworth, Graham, Bennet, Gardner Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Train Veterans for Careers in Innovative Sectors of the American Energy Industry


[WASHINGTON, DC] – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) reintroduced the Energy Jobs for our Heroes Act to help Veterans gain the training and credentials necessary to secure job opportunities in the clean energy sector. The bipartisan legislation will 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 who possess the needed training and credentials to succeed.

“Our nation has experienced an exponential growth in clean, renewable energy. I believe there is tremendous opportunity for our Veterans to find good-paying jobs in these fast-growing sectors,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to partner with Senators Graham, Gardner and Bennet on this bipartisan legislation to help servicemembers and Veterans transition back into civilian life while also helping clean energy companies – which already employ Veterans at high rates across the country – find highly-skilled and dedicated workers.”

“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. If there was ever a win-win, it is this bill. I’m really pleased to be working with Senators Duckworth, Gardner, and Bennet on this important legislation,” said Senator Graham.

“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,” said Senator Gardner. “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 would also establish a labeling program that recognizes companies that are hiring graduates of these programs in order to encourage them to hire Veterans.

Duckworth introduced the legislation alongside Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) last March, and she secured a commitment from U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to work on advancing the legislation during a Senate hearing last year. The Senate also unanimously passed an amendment that was introduced by Bennet, Gardner and Duckworth last year, which became law as part of the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, to lay the groundwork for the creation of an Energy Ready Vets training program. That amendment required the Departments of Energy and Defense 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 great fits for the wind and solar industries, both of which employ Veterans at higher rates than the rest of our economy. According to the Department of Energy, Veterans make up 11.5% and 11.1% of the wind and solar workforce respectively.