According to EarthTechling, unemployment among veterans between ages 20 and 24 is 27%, three times that of the national average unemployment rate. In addition, many veterans suffer further effects from things like PTSD and depression from the lack of options and occupation. Brown and Tipping Point Renewable Energy, an Ohio-based clean energy company, launched this program to address that problem, but also have grander visions for the program. Senator Brown and TPRE CEO Eric Zimmer kicked off their program with their first Solar for Soldiers solar array installation on the roof of a local pub in Dublin, Ohio. Reportedly saving $238,260 in energy costs over 25 years, the program makes a strong point that it's not only doing veterans a service, but it's making improvements in infrastructure (not to mention sustainable energy).
On his website Senator Brown states that he wants to make Ohio, "the Silicon Valley of Clean Energy Manufacturing." Federal lawmakers and the White House have made broad promises about using clean energy jobs to spur employment growth, but so far, it hasn't really happened. Zimmer, speaking about the expansion of clean energy use and development in Ohio, says, "Continued federal and state investment is key to this growth." In fact, Senator Brown has introduced legislation to this effect at the federal level, both to improve unemployment opportunities for returning veterans and to provide further tax incentives for private businesses to make clean energy or efficient energy changes in their businesses and infrastructure.
In Ohio, at least, it sounds as if clean energy job growth is a reality. Zimmer contends that there's up to $20 million in projected clean energy growth just in Central Ohio, which leaves a lot of room for expansion and even competition in this quickly growing industry. My hope is that our federal lawmakers can find the lights before all of this groping around in the fiscal dark send our economy further into a position that prevents even green energy companies from hiring. State governments, likewise, can take their eyes off numbers long enough to pass some legislation that will further encourage 21st century job growth. After all, nothing is going to grow this economy like putting Americans back to work.