The solar industry has gone supernova, adding jobs to the American economy at ten times the national average. That includes veterans, who are “employed within the solar industry at higher-than-average rates,” according to a new joint report from The Solar Foundation and Operation Free. Over 13,000 military veterans now work within the sunshine industry, comprising over 9 percent of its quickly growing workforce.
This week, the very good news was trumpeted to a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing, whose chairman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) noted (PDF) that veterans suffer from a much higher unemployment rate than the national average. That was quickly followed with a statement from House Natural Resources Committee member Pete DeFazio (D-OR), who added, “These are good-paying, highly skilled jobs in a sustainable, renewable industry that increases national security through energy independence.”
Even during an era of stunning political gridlock, solar panels manage to be a bipartisan issue.
“Based upon the data from our National Solar Jobs Census 2013, this short report establishes the first and most complete understanding to date of veteran employment in the U.S. solar industry,” Solar Foundation president and executive director Andrea Luecke explained in a press release. “Veterans are invaluable contributors to the solar workforce and an essential part of the solar industry’s explosive growth.”
Which is a welcome relief as well as an inevitable transition, given that the United States military continues to be one of Earth’s worst polluters, from its oil-dependent war machines and supply chains to its geopolitical chess games to control what fossil fuels are still globally available in an epoch of destabilized climate change. Transitioning veterans, as well as the overall military they have served, to an exploding renewables industry, when smoke clears, is clearly an economic, political and environmental no-brainer.
The worst thing Americans can say about it is that it isn’t happening faster.
This article appeared at Solar Energy