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Solar training launches at base

Hill Air Force Base became the fourth military base to implement a program aimed at providing solar training to service members transitioning to the civilian workforce.

Hill Air Force Base became the fourth military base to implement a program aimed at providing solar training to service members transitioning to the civilian workforce.

President Obama announced the Solar Ready Vets program at the northern Utah base in April 2015. Since then, the program has launched at three other bases—Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Fort Carson, Colo.; and Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.—and prepared 150 vets for solar energy careers, including management, photovoltaic installation, and sales and technical positions.

The Air Force News Service said the first class of 24 transitioning vets at Hill will begin training Feb. 1 through a joint effort of Salt Lake Community College and the Energy Department, which oversees the initiative. DOE is is working with the Defense Department to expand the program to 10 bases by late spring.

Like the other launch sites, Hill was chosen for the program based on the number of exiting military personnel at the base, the strength of the nearby solar market and the availability of nearby training facilities. The base also gets 20 percent or more of its overall energy from renewable sources, including its own solar array installation. Some of the Solar Ready Vets graduates may return to bases to help build solar arrays, the Air Force noted.

The program is tied to the Defense Department’s SkillBridge initiative, which readies active-duty military personnel with civilian workforce skills within six months of moving to veteran status. For the solar program, DOE pays for the training during the startup phase, and participants can use their GI Bill benefits to pay for continuing classes, the Air Force said.

While vets graduating from the program are not guaranteed jobs, all of the participants so far have been gotten job offers from renewable energy companies participating in the program, according to DOE.

See more at: www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/642205/solar-ready-vets-program-to-begin-first-class-at-hill-afb.aspx.

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