Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Solar Power International 2009 Conference
October 27, 2009
Thank you, Rhone, for that kind introduction.
I'm pleased to see Rhone and David here their leadership is critical to securing a clean energy economy with solar at the helm. And my good friend Ed Begley Jr it's great to partner with you again on such an important issue.
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 developing new battery technologies for hybrid vehicles... modernizing the electric grid... making our homes and businesses more energy efficient... and doubling our capacity to generate renewable electricity.
These are investments that create jobs!
We know the potential of solar...
My colleagues at the Department of Energy estimate that in the southwest alone, 6900 gigawatts of solar electricity could be generated.
They estimate that solar in the U.S. could be at the beginning of a 25% growth rate... resulting in solar contributing between 10% to 20% of total electricity by 2030.
And they estimate that solar could create over 1 million new jobs by 2030.
I have seen first hand the impacts these investments are having in communities across our country... these are investments we are making in partnership with you.
Yet I don't have to tell you that the U.S. lags behind in 3rd globally in this sector... 3rd behind Spain which installed 8 times more megawatts of PV... and behind Germany which installed 5 times more megawatts of PV.
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% grant in-lieu of tax credit for renewable energy projects.
And that's why the Recovery Act includes $4 billion in fee subsidies to support loan guarantees for $40 billion or more in new and commercialized technologies.
These significant investments are just a few of the ways the Administration is using the Recovery Act - not only to create jobs now, but to lay a new foundation for economic and job growth.
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 can support a family by increasing incomes and narrowing the wage gap.
Jobs that are safe and secure, and give people a voice in the workplace through the right to organize and bargain collectively.
Jobs that are sustainable that export products, not paychecks.
And jobs that rebuild and restore a strong middle class.
These are jobs in the clean energy economy! These are jobs in the solar industry!
As Secretary of Labor I am working hard to ensure everyone has access to needed training for good clean energy jobs.
And that the job training they receive is of the highest quality.
In June, the Department announced grant competitions for $500 million in green jobs workforce training ... grants that will involve new partnerships and support quality training needed for the clean energy economy.
These are investments in our one stops and workforce investment systems, investments in training for both workers and employers, and investments leading to pathways out of poverty.
These competitions closed last Tuesday and I'm happy to announce that we received over 900 applications which meet the requirements of the competition.
This is nearly triple the demand we have seen for workforce training grants of similar size!
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 which is relevant to their business.
But at the Department we're not working in a vacuum to achieve a skilled workforce for a clean energy economy.
Secretary Donovan and I are working to bring clean energy training to residents of public housing... to lead these residents to sustainable career ladders while greening their homes.
Secretaries Chu and Duncan and I are leveraging our resources to bring training, employment and education to our systems.
And I challenge you today work with us as we invest in our workforce system... visit a one stop, hire the workers seeking assistance there. Let's partner.
Just as Secretary Chu and I partnered to award up to $27 million, including $10 million in Recovery Act funds, for the Solar Installer Instructor Training Network.
These are funds to help train over 1,400 instructors and 168,000 solar workers... these are funds that demonstrate our commitment to accelerating the market adoption of solar technologies and creating sustainable jobs within the solar installation industry.
The commitment of this Administration extends beyond the Departments of Labor and Energy, Education and Housing.
In a May meeting of the Middle Class Task Force, Vice President Joe Biden issued a challenge deliver a report in 90 days outlining a plan that uses existing resources to overcome barriers to a national retrofit market.
Eleven Departments and Agencies and 6 White House Offices stepped up to the plate... developing ideas to leverage private capital, reduce energy costs for homeowners, provide quality training for workers and support for entrepreneurs.
This means unified support for the development of financing and distribution business models for solar.
Through our continued efforts we hope to ensure that the energy efficiency market will thrive long after the Recovery Act money is spent.
We know that America cannot build a 21st Century clean energy economy without a smart, strong and secure electricity delivery system.
That's why just a few minutes ago, the President announced 100 grants totaling $3.4 billion to private companies, utilities, cities and other partners to help build a nationwide smart energy grid.
The awards are not only expected to create tens of thousands of new job opportunities across the country, but they will also help us make a significant leap forward in building the infrastructure necessary to bring clean, low-cost energy sources to American homes and businesses.
These awards will encourage and allow rapid growth in renewable energies like solar helping meet our goal of doubling renewable energy capacity over the next few years.
And these awards will improve the reliability of our electricity system helping to save the more than $150 billion lost each year in power outages and interruptions.
This significant investment is just one of the ways the Administration is using the Recovery Act to not only create jobs now, but also lay a new foundation for economic and job growth.
To create entire new industries of clean energy jobs and break the stranglehold of foreign oil, we have to be honest about the difficult tasks and hard choices ahead.
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.
A clean energy future with good jobs for everyone... jobs that empower the worker to advance up a career ladder, sustain a family or achieve a secure retirement.
America will lead the clean energy economy of tomorrow, because it is the American spirit and our ingenuity that has made us the great nation we are today.
America will lead the clean energy economy of tomorrow because of your leadership and determination today.
I look forward to building our future together.