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Solar Industry Commits to Employing 50,000 More Vets by 2020

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When I was 17, I decided to join the U.S. Army. As the eldest son of a veteran, the decision was easy. My father served and I wanted to live up to that calling too.

This photo of my father, Harold Scott, was taken in the '80s while he was stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia. This is juxtaposed with a photo of me and my sisters Alishia (left) and Laconia (right) that was taken in 2000 on the day I graduated from bootcamp at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. Photo credit: Antuan Scott

I joined as an Army Reservist, where I would report for duty one weekend a month and train for two weeks out of the year. It was a small price to pay for the benefits that serving brought me.

Serving in the military gives you great pride because of the values you work to uphold every single day. Despite how divided the country may seem at times, soldiers are called to protect every citizen, regardless of background, race and status.

In the military, people you may not agree with become your brother or sister. This common mission is what I loved most about being in the military. Complete strangers became instant family over the common bond of serving the country.

Being a part of the solar industry reminds me of serving in the military because of the higher purpose behind the day-to-day.

At Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), everyone serves their specific functions. Whether it’s recruiting new members to join the association—like I do—or lobbying Capitol Hill, we all work for the same cause: to expand the affordability, reliability and adoption of solar energy.

I am proud to be a veteran and to work in an industry that fights for the future of this country. And I work in an industry that supports veterans and provides a great career when their military service ends.

The solar industry is committed to becoming the most diverse energy sector in the nation, as Americans from all walks of life take advantage of the benefits of solar and its cascading price tag. Solar already employs a higher percentage rate of veterans than the total U.S. workforce, but the industry upped the ante this spring by committing to having 50,000 U.S. veterans working in solar by 2020.

As a veteran who has spent time away from his family, my thoughts and sincerest gratitude are with my comrades, especially those who were called and paid the ultimate price.

If you’re a veteran, thank you for your service. If you’re a veteran or transitioning service member, consider joining an industry worthy of your calling.

Veterans Day Activities And Service Member Resources:

  • Solar Ready Vets is a new training program that seeks to match veterans with job opportunities within the solar industry.
  • GRID Alternatives' new Troops to Solar training initiative will provide solar industry workforce training to more than 1,000 U.S. military veterans and active service members across the country. A new three-year, $750,000 grant from Wells Fargo for the initiative was announced today at a solar installation project by Operation: Solar for San Diego Troops, which installs solar for wounded San Diego veterans living in Habitat for Humanity homes.
  • Everblue Training, LLC, a veteran-owned small business, has partnered with SEIA to bring veterans the most comprehensive and effective introduction to solar energy training on the market. Get 20 percent off on online and on-demand training toward becoming a NABCEP-certified solar contractor.
  • Executives from Canadian Solar and 59 other companies will ring the opening bell for the NASDAQ on Veterans Day. The 60 representatives will take a pledge to hire more veterans, which will inspire other companies across the country to do so as well.

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"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.

Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.

"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.

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The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.

"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."