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Making the choice for clean energy jobs

Hilda L. Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor

We have a choice to make.

The United States can remain one of the world's leading importers of foreign oil-or we can make the investments that would allow us to become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy.

We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for lasting prosperity.

The President and I know what the right choice is: We believe that a more prosperous future for our nation's economy means making investments in energy efficiency and clean energy today.

And that is what we are doing.

The Recovery Act invests more than $80 billion in clean energy. Let me say this again...the largest-single investment in our country's economy included the largest single investment in clean energy technology and research in our country's history.

This means putting tens of thousands of Americans to work modernizing the electric grid... making our homes and businesses more energy efficient... and doubling our capacity to generate renewable electricity.

We know the potential of solar.

My colleagues at the U.S. Department of Energy estimate that in the southwest alone, 6900 gigawatts of solar electricity could be generated.

They estimate that solar power in the U.S. could be at the beginning of a 25 percent growth rate, resulting in solar contributing between 10 percent and 20 percent of total electricity by 2030.

And they estimate that solar power could create over one million new jobs by 2030. That's why the Recovery Act dedicates $117 million for solar-including research and development, deployment, and market transformation.

That's why the Recovery Act includes $2.3 billion in tax credits for U.S. based clean energy manufacturing. This tax credit alone could create $7.7 billion in projects.

That's why the Recovery Act provides a 30 percent grant in-lieu of tax credit for renewable energy projects.

At the Department of Labor, we are making investments in our clean energy future by investing in our nation's greatest resource today-its workers.

We're doing it in a way that promotes both economic stability and the advancement of everyone in our diverse communities.

And by economic stability, I mean jobs and careers.

Jobs that are sustainable-that export products, not paychecks.

In June, the Department announced grant competitions for $500 million in green jobs workforce training ... grants that will involve new partnerships and support the quality training needed for the clean energy economy.

I'm happy to announce that we received over 900 applications that meet the requirements of the competition.

These 900 applications show the initiative of communities across the country... the desire to have green jobs be a part of their economic recovery... and the willingness of employers to partner with labor unions, community based organizations, and educational institutions.

Over the coming months, we'll award these grants... bringing workers the training that leads to good paying and lasting jobs... and bringing employers the confidence that workers are receiving training relevant to their business.

These awards will encourage and allow rapid growth in renewable energies-like solar-and help meet our goal of doubling renewable energy capacity over the next few years.

While the path before us is clear, it will not be easy... we are facing monumental challenges.

I have carried the message of a clean energy economy to miners in West Virginia, solar panel manufacturers in Tennessee, manufacturing students in Arkansas, auto workers in Michigan, veterans in San Antonio, and youth in San Francisco and East Los Angeles.

Our goal must be a clean energy future that works for all Americans, so that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren not just a stronger economy, but a cleaner planet.

And a clean energy future with good jobs for everyone.


For the Record is an edited excerpt of a speech by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis to the Solar Power International Conference in Anaheim, California, in October.

January/February 2010