March 31, 2009

Wyden Amendment for Renewable Energy Job Training Included in Energy Bill

Community Colleges to Receive $100 million Per Year for 5 Years

Washington, D.C. - In a bold step to dramatically improve our nation's preparedness to compete in the renewable energy industry, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources today voted to include an amendment authored by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in the 2009 energy bill to fund job-training programs at community colleges in renewable and alternative energy fields. U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wy) joined Wyden as a cosponsor of the amendment.

"The United States will not to be able to dramatically expand our renewable energy industry if we don't train our workers to build and operate it," Wyden said. "There is no better place to do that than in our nation's community colleges where the promise of higher education and job training is closer for more Americans than anywhere else."

Based on the Community College Sustainability Act introduced by Wyden in the 110th Congress, this amendment will authorize $100 million per year for five years to fund job-training and education programs for sustainable and alternative energy technologies. The provision would focus on training technicians to work in the wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy sectors as well as other alternative energy jobs.

The amendment authorizes the U.S. Department of Energy to fund alternative energy job-training programs at the nation's 1,200 community colleges, with half of the funds being dedicated to schools that already have such programs in place, such as Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles, Oregon. The other half will go to the creation of new programs. The amendment has been endorsed by the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Wildlife Federation, and the American Wind Energy Association.