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Obama's new plan to help veterans find jobs: Turn them into solar panel installers

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President Barack Obama gestures during a statement in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Washington. Obama spoke after Congress voted to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The Obama administration on Thursday announced a new program aimed at training military veterans so they can get jobs installing solar panels, and "become the leaders of the nation’s clean energy economy."

The Department of Energy already has an initiative — the Solar Instructor Training Network — that helps train people to join the solar industry. The new initiative will have that program partner with up to three military bases this fall, and train up to 30 active service military personnel on how to install solar panels.

President Barack Obama's administration announced a new plan aimed at getting veterans jobs in the solar panel installation industry. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

"Service members in this pilot program will learn how to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes," the White House said. "This intensive training will prepare them for careers in the solar industry as installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations."

After these active-duty personnel are trained, the idea is to expand this training to veterans. "Ultimately, lessons learned from this first successful pilot will enable the Energy Department and military branches to expand solar training access to interested veterans, tapping into the Department’s nearly 400 solar training partner institutions nationwide," the White House said.

The plan also foresees getting veterans in touch with hundreds of community college-based solar training institutions.

High unemployment rates have plagued veterans serving after 9/11. In August, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was 8.1 percent, well above the national rate of 6.1 percent.

It's unclear whether the new initiative can make a real dent in that high rate. However, the White House said the solar industry has already taken a leading role in higher veterans.

From the beginning, the Obama administration has consistently tried to create programs aimed at creating "green jobs," but not all efforts have ended successfully. It's most famous failure was its decision to give taxpayer-funded loans to Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy in 2011.

In 2009, President Barack Obama's "green jobs" advisor, Van Jones, was forced to resign after calling Republicans "assholes," and for backing movement that thinks the Bush administration was behind the 9/11 attacks.

The newest White House plan was announced as part of a series of executive branch actions aimed at improving energy efficiency. Among other things, the White House announced it would "invest" $68 million in 540 renewable energy projects in rural areas of the country, which includes 240 solar projects.

It also announced a proposed energy conservation standards for air conditioners, and using affordable housing funding to advance clean energy and energy efficiency projects.

"The executive announcements today altogether will cut carbon pollution by nearly 300 million metric tons through 2030 – equivalent to taking more than 60 million cars off the road for one year – and will save homes and businesses more than $10 billion on their energy bills," the White House said.

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