June 19, 2018

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


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) today introduced the Energy Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2018 to help Veterans gain the training and credentials necessary to secure good paying jobs in fast-growing sectors of the low- and zero-carbon emissions energy industry. The Senators’ bipartisan legislation will help ease the transition back to civilian life for servicemembers and strengthen the economy by connecting employers in fast-growing solar, wind, nuclear and cyber energy industries with talented, highly-skilled Veterans who possess the needed training and credentials to succeed. Duckworth received a commitment from Energy Secretary Rick Perry during a Senate committee hearing in March to work on advancing this pro-Veterans legislation.

“I am proud to partner with Senators Graham and Bennet on this bipartisan legislation to help servicemembers transition back to civilian life and find good-paying jobs in clean, renewable energy,” said Senator 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. If there was ever a win-win, it is this bill. I’m really pleased to be working with Senators Duckworth and Bennet on this important legislation,” said Senator Graham.

“For years, we’ve worked to ensure veterans are equipped to enter the clean energy industry, especially in Colorado,” said Senator 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.”

The bipartisan Energy Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2018 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.

The U.S. military has been a leader in developing low-carbon emission 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 workforces respectively.

Low-carbon and zero-carbon emissions energy has also experienced exponential growth in recent years; wind and solar energy are two of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. Today, there are more than 800,000 people working in the renewable energy sector across the country and there are nearly 5,000 wind and solar jobs in Illinois – a number that is expected to grow thanks to Illinois’s clean energy targets under the Future Energy Jobs Act, which became law in Illinois in 2016.