• Your Opportunity to Secure our Future

    Take a look around the world. Everywhere you turn you’ll find a geopolitical mess at the intersection of energy, climate change, and global security. From airstrikes on oil fields and refineries in Iraq and Syria controlled by the Islamic State to natural gas crises in Ukraine and the European Union compromising negotiations with Vladimir Putin to flooding in heavily disputed Kashmir, the stakes for our energy and climate future have never been higher.

    Concerns like these are what brought hundreds of thousands of climate activists to New York to voice their support for climate action. They were joined by more than 125 other heads of state, more than 100 CEOs from businesses all over the world like McDonald’s and Ikea, and celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo.

    There’s just one problem: Without your help, none of it will matter.

    It’s been more than two decades since the United States helped negotiate the first climate change treaty, which was never ratified by Congress. Since then, the record of international climate agreements has been abysmal. Talks in the The Hague fell short in 2000, Copenhagen negotiations collapsed in 2009, and Durban disappointed in 2011. Over and over, the leaders of countries have proved unable or unwilling to tackle our biggest climate challenges.

    That’s increasingly a problem for global security, according to our military leaders. As global temperatures rise and weather patterns become increasingly volatile, we can expect that natural disasters will only escalate in number and intensity. Disasters like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines leave already vulnerable populations in even more dire need for basic goods and services- things which their governments are often unable to provide.

    The problem is not unique to the Philippines — one instigating factor of the genocide in Darfur was the severe drought that ravaged the land historically shared between nomadic Arab herdsmen and indigenous famers. The competition over shrinking resources for grazing and farming contributed to a massive humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

    In short, climate change is a catalyst of conflict, exacerbating already unstable situations in deeply divided societies. Terrorist organizations view natural disasters as opportunities to recruit and radicalize these populations when they are most vulnerable. As a result, climate-driven crises pose an acute national security threat to the United States, forcing our men and women in uniform to respond to natural disasters around the world and diverting them from the military’s primary objectives — keeping us safe and winning wars.

    We know the only way to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change in the future is to make serious investments in clean energy technology and deployment today. Of course, you won’t be surprised to learn that Congress hasn’t been very helpful. Since comprehensive climate legislation failed in 2009, Congress has been more harmful than helpful to the clean energy sector. That hasn’t stopped clean energy companies here at home from adding nearly 80,000 jobs and 80 percent of new power capacity in 2013. But as long as the national political scene is a partisan swamp, working out the dynamics for international negotiations will be an immense challenge.

    We need to change the way we power our economies, turning to renewable sources, efficiency, demand response, electricity storage, and a host of other technologies and business models that will reduce our carbon emissions. We need a vibrant, dynamic clean energy economy that is providing for the enormous energy needs of developed countries like our own and bring solar power to emerging economies, like climate-conflict ravaged Mali.

    The real action is happening in states, cities and local communities. One decidedly positive thing did happen in New York last month: more than 200 cities signed a “Compact of Mayors” laying out specific targets and strategies for reducing their carbon emissions. As Mayor Bill de Blasio noted in his opening speech, “the energy we use in our homes, schools, workplaces, stores and public facilities accounts for nearly three-quarters of our contribution to climate change. But we can upgrade our buildings to make them more energy efficient and reduce these emissions. With this work, we can make our homes more affordable, improve the quality of our air and create a thriving market for energy efficiency and renewable energy-with new jobs and new businesses.”

    Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis, a Republican and retired Marine, is leading his city to become the first to get its entire vehicle fleet off oil. He’s turning to electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, because he’s concerned our dependence on oil compromises our national security. You can push your city leaders to do the same. Companies like American Efficient are helping businesses and consumers make more informed energy choices, and services like Ride Scout can help you identify the best form of public transportation for where you need to go.

    By taking action, you’ll be driving the demand for the clean energy economy we need. After seeing decades of half-measures and halting negotiations, it’s clear that solutions will have to be community-driven.

     Michael Wu is the Energy Program Director for the Truman National Security Project and Center for National Policy, specializing in the connection between energy and national security. This piece was originally featured in the Huffington Post.

  • Energy Security in Ohio Under Attack

    Post was originally published in The Columbus Dispatch.

    [Last week], Senator Balderson put Ohio’s energy security at risk by introducing SB 310, a bill that would impose a freeze at the end of 2014 on the state’s clean energy standards – the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS).

    While we’ve seen a fight to weaken the standards over the past year, this latest attempt to impose a direct freeze on the standards is by far the most egregious attack yet.

    The proposed freeze would directly threaten Ohio’s energy security and limit our ability to develop a diverse energy portfolio.

    As a veteran of the United States Army, I’ve seen first hand the importance of energy access and the threat posed by an over-reliance on a single – and often unsecure – energy source. In Iraq, energy supply disruptions severely limited our ability to conduct operations, and could mean the difference between a successful or failed mission.

    That’s why the military is investing in clean energy and energy efficient technologies that provide greater energy security and diversity and strengthen operational capabilities in combat zones and installations here at home, including here in Ohio.

    Ohio has emerged as a leader in advancing a clean energy economy since passing the clean energy standards with broad bi-partisan support in 2008.

    For Ohio – and the military – diversification is critically important to ensuring secure access to energy.  The standards have been instrumental in diversifying our energy portfolio with clean, homegrown energy, increasing Ohio’s energy security and lowering costs for consumers on their monthly utility bills.

    The proposed freeze would cap further growth of the clean energy sector, and we would see a ripple effect through the economy in the way of job-loss, unstable and rising energy prices, and declining private investment.

    I call upon lawmakers to stop these senseless attacks on clean energy and to follow the leadership of our military by strengthening Ohio’s commitment to investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

  • Media Roundup: Veterans in Solar Report

    In February 2014, Operation Free and The Solar Foundation released a joint report, Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, which focused on veterans employed in the solar industry.

    Check out the featured news stories on the report:

    Clean Technica: New Report Highlights Growth in Solar Jobs for Veterans

    Fresh off the news that President Obama is making noises about withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan, the organizations Operation Free and The Solar Foundation have released a first-of-its-kind report that offers returning veterans the prospect of civilian employment in the US solar industry. In a nutshell, the new report demonstrates that veterans are employed in the solar industry at higher than average rates.

    Read the full story.

    Solar Power World: Operation Free & The Solar Foundation Launch Report on Veterans in Solar Industry

    Today, Operation Free and The Solar Foundation released a joint report on veterans working in the American solar industry. The first-of-its-kind report shows that veterans are employed within the solar industry at higher-than-average rates offering career opportunities to a group that has faced extraordinarily high unemployment. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52), White House officials, and veterans working in the solar industry join Operation Free and The Solar Foundation at a launch event in support of the new report.

    Read the full story.

    Politico Morning Energy

    SOLAR INDUSTRY HAS HIGHER RATIO OF VETERANS THAN OVERALL WORKFORCE — REPORT: A little more than 9 percent of the U.S. solar workforce, or 12,192 people, are veterans, a higher ratio than the 7.6 percent of overall workforce, according to a report out today from Operation Free and the Solar Foundation. The two biggest sectors for those solar veterans and installation (39 percent) and manufacturing (27 percent), and the mean hourly wage is $21.44. The military provides extensive technical training and leadership experience, making veterans “ideal candidates for employment in the rapidly growing solar industry,” the report says. “However, there are currently few resources available to help these individuals successfully transition from the military into solar.”

    Read the full story.

    LEED Points: Study Surveys Veterans’ Powerful Presence in U.S. Solar Energy Industry

    For the first time, a report has gauged the contributions of veterans in the U.S. solar industry.

    According to Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, released today by Operation Free and The Solar Foundation, 9.3 percent of the workers in the nation’s solar sector are veterans. That’s good for 13,192 employees who happen to be veterans of U.S. armed forces. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterans comprise nearly 8 percent of the nation’s entire workforce.

    Read the full story. 

    Market Watch: Solar Employs Higher Rate of Veterans Than Other Industries

    The solar industry employs veterans at a higher-than-average rate, according to a report by a veterans coalition and a solar industry trade group released Wednesday.

    Veterans make up 9% of all solar workers at a time when 16% of veterans 18 years old to 24 years old are unemployed, Operation Free and The Solar Foundation said in the report released Wednesday. That compares to an overall unemployment rate of 6% and an unemployment rate of 11% for non-veterans in the same age group. Veterans are 7.6% of the overall workforce.

    Read the full story.

    White House Council on Environmental Quality: How Our Veterans Are Securing Our Energy Future

    Like many of my fellow veterans, I first began to understand the issue of energy security while serving on the battlefield in Iraq.  Each night, after local workers left our base, we needed to move our fuel trucks because the location where those trucks had been would become a mortar target at night.  Over the past several years, the military has made incredible strides to address energy security on the battlefield.  They have learned that being energy efficient and having resilient power supplies not only saves money, but saves lives.

    Read the full story.

    Sustainable Business: Veterans Want Solar Jobs

    Almost 10% of the people that work in America’s solar industry are veterans, 13,192 employees.

    In fact, at 9.2% of solar employees, veterans are over-represented in the solar industry – they make up about 8% of the US workforce.

    That’s according to Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, produced by the Veterans’ clean energy group Operation Free and The Solar Foundation.

    Read the full story.

    Clean Edison: How the Military Is (Indirectly) Fueling The Solar Industry 

    If ever there was a champion of efficiency, the military would be it. Energy efficiency is no exception to this generalization. As The Solar Foundation (TSF) and Operation Free tell us in a recent Veterans in Solar report, the U.S. military has scaled up its use of distributed renewable energy technologies, at home and in combat zones, to strengthen energy security and improve operational costs and capabilities.

    Always occupying a certain crest on the waves of technological innovation, the American military has made efforts toward energy independence, bolstered by a Department of Defense (DoD) mandate to use renewable power for 25% of total facility energy consumption by 2025. Bases across the United States have already installed over a 130-megawatt capacity of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. It is a strategic move in an effort to mitigate risk and make our military less vulnerable, but it has a seamless side-effect: job-ready veterans.

    Read the full story.

    Domestic Fuel: Veterans Move into Solar Industry Jobs

    According to a new report released jointly from Operation Free and The Solar Foundation,veterans are employed within the solar industry at higher than average rates. The report finds that for a group facing high unemployment, the solar industry is one of the best industries for jobs.

    The report, Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, highlights the contributions of veterans to the solar industry, using data derived from The Solar Foundation’s annual National Solar Jobs Census 2013. The findings show that America’s solar industry has grown by 500 percent since 2008, providing more than 13,000 veterans with job opportunities as of November 2013. Veterans represent nearly 10 percent of all solar workers at a time when more than 15 percent of veterans aged 18-24 are currently unemployed. The report also discovered that the growth in the industry is continuing with nearly 62 percent of solar companies that employ veterans plan to add more solar workers within the next 12 months.

    Read the full story.

    Solar Industry: Military Veterans Finding A Friendly Welcome In The U.S. Solar Sector

    Solar companies are hiring military veterans at a higher rate than other U.S. employers. That’s according to a new report from Operation Free and The Solar Foundation (TSF). The report, “Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future,” highlights findings from TSF’s National Solar Jobs Census 2013 relating to employment of veterans in solar work.

    As of November 2013, the U.S solar sector employed 13,192 veterans of the U.S. armed forces, the report says. That figure represents 9.2% of the 142,698 solar workers in the U.S. Among U.S. companies overall, only 7.6% of all workers are military veterans.

    Read the full story.

  • Military Clean Energy in Colorado – Our Mission

    Operation Free veterans and national security experts are engaged on the ground in Colorado to ensure local, renewable energy in the Rocky Mountains continues to grow. The mission of Operation Free is to support policies that advance the clean energy goals of Colorado’s military installations and allow roof top solar to grow statewide.

  • Military Clean Energy in Colorado – The Issue

    Like many Coloradans, the military recognizes that our single-source dependence on oil poses a threat to our national and economic security.  But investing in homegrown, renewable energy to power military operations around the world and bases here at home can lessen that threat.  That’s why Colorado military installations – notably the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson – are at the leading edge of military renewable energy efforts.

    And it’s not just the military.  On the civilian side, evidence of a growing renewables industry are everywhere in Colorado.  Wind is powering rural economies with affordable electricity while creating thousands of stable jobs – many of them for veterans.  And rooftop and large scale solar projects are bringing good jobs and clean energy to the Rocky Mountains too.

    Colorado’s clean energy leadership has been based – in no small part – on smart policy making by the Public Utilities Commission.  In January 2014, one of the most successful policies, Net Energy Metering, came under attack. Net Energy Metering literally puts the power in the hands of Coloradans, permitting them to produce their own, clean renewable energy – and when they have extra energy, to sell it back in to the grid at the same rate they buy it from the utility company.

    Following the military’s lead, Operation Free advocates support Net Energy Metering because it diversifies our energy options, making America less dependence on fossil fuels.  At the same time, alternatives like wind and solar can provide more stability to an aging power grid, ensuring military installations can remain online in the event of power outage.

    While the recent decision to uphold the policy demonstrates a reaffirmed commitment to the state’s clean energy future, we must continue to make sure Colorado’s policymakers listen to the people – and our military – who overwhelmingly support net energy metering.

  • Veterans in Solar: Q&A with Nat Kreamer, CEO, Clean Power Finance

    This article is a Q&A between Jaclyn Houser, Advocacy Director of Operation Free, and Nat Kreamer, CEO of Clean Power Finance and former Intelligence Officer, Special Forces, United States Navy

    Jaclyn Houser: Can you tell me about your military experience?

    Nat Kreamer: I joined the Army during business school as an officer candidate because the country was at war and I wanted to serve. The Army ‘branched’ me Field Artillery. After training at Fort Sill, I learned that the Navy was looking to grow its Special Forces intelligence capabilities, which sounded exciting to me, so I branch transferred to the Navy. As a junior officer, I served at the Office of Naval Intelligence, leading counter-terrorism analysts, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and the US Third Fleet, where I was the Senior Targeting Officer in the Combat Air Operations Center (CAOC).  I fought with JSOC in Afghanistan in 2006, where I was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

    Jaclyn Houser: What was your “ah-ha” moment, when you saw first-hand the national security impacts of our energy use?

    Nat Kreamer: In Afghanistan, my commander, Colonel Joseph Hartman, who knew I was an energy strategy consultant in the civilian world, asked me, “Kreamer, You know we’ve spent half a trillion dollars in this war (i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan). If we had invested that money in clean energy back home instead, would we be fighting in Iraq today?”  After some calculations, I answered him, “No, we would not be fighting this war.  With half a trillion dollars invested back home in renewable energy we could redefine the energy landscape and be able to cut off the petro-dollars financing our enemies (i.e. terrorists) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Gulf.”

    Jaclyn Houser: So with your experience, how did this guide your career in clean energy when you returned from Afghanistan?

    Nat Kreamer: Before deploying to Afghanistan I worked on a power market analysis project to determine if California would have enough power generation capacity. During that project I figured out that there was a big business opportunity in distributed solar—building solar generation on homes and businesses—and came up with the idea to create a company that owned solar systems on consumer’s homes and sold them clean, affordable electricity.

    I volunteered for deployment and went to Afghanistan after the project ended. In Afghanistan, I realized that we had to cut off funding sources to terrorists and insurgents to permanently win the war. The two best ways to permanently cut off funding to AFPAK terrorists and insurgents are: a) wheat-for-poppy crop-substitution in Afghanistan that eliminates the protection money farmers paid to the Taliban; and b) renewable energy use at home to deny the jihad our petro-dollars.  I got ‘religion’ about renewable energy fighting in Afghanistan.

    Returning home in 2007, I turned the idea for a residential solar power generation company into SunRun and sold the first residential solar purchase agreement. This kick-started a multi-billion-dollar residential solar industry, making clean electricity cost-saving for average Americans. Today, you can buy solar electricity and use it to power an electric car for fewer than ten cents per mile versus running on gasoline at twenty cents or more per mile. The compelling home economics of solar electricity and electric cars will cut off the petro-dollar supply to our enemies.

    Jaclyn Houser: In your opinion, why are veterans – particularly returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans – ideal candidates for a career in the solar industry?

    Nat Kreamer: The United States military is the best training institution in the country – and it’s an institution that instills a level of discipline and work ethic. Given their training and backgrounds, veterans are great candidates for work in solar for three reasons:

    First, solar is an industry that is growing really fast, and we don’t have the time to be on the training ground. We need disciplined, motivated, and skilled workers – and we need to them to come ready. Veterans are used to being dropped into unpredictable situations and forced to pick up skills quickly, which makes them ideally suited to the rapid expansion and changing nature of this industry.

    Second, the solar industry is filled with people who are passionate about the job and who work together to help people, the environment, and national security.  Solar, like the military, is not just about the paycheck; it’s also about working for something larger than oneself.

    Third, in a fast growing industry, you need people who can take charge. One of the challenges in start-ups is building a team of people who know how to lead. We need the person who was doing the task yesterday to be the person teaching someone else to lead today.

    Jaclyn Houser:  Is there a need of the industry that veterans are particularly adapted to fill?

    Nat Kreamer: The solar industry is currently underinvested in the supply chain, which imposes a  limit on scalability and capacity building of the industry as a whole. Former military come ready-made for supply chain development and execution. They have both the skill set and talent to manage large-scale operations in part because the logistics for an industry like solar is comparable in many ways to how logistics are managed in the military – all the way from the warehouse to the field.

  • Veterans in Solar: Exec Summary

    In February 2014, Operation Free and The Solar Foundation® released a joint report, Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, which established the most complete understanding to date of veteran employment in the American solar industry.

    Through this collaboration, we are able to illustrate through hard numbers that veterans are hugely beneficial to the clean energy economy (and vice versa). Veterans bring unparalleled technical skills and a relentless focus on accomplishing the mission, and many view their work in clean energy as a continuation of their service. To continue expanding and strengthening our national security, the solar industry needs access to both a highly skilled workforce and talented business leaders.

    In May 2016, Operation Free joined forces with the DOE Sunshot Initiative’s Solar Ready Vets program to further our commitment to support veteran employment in the solar industry. Solar Ready Vets is a solar jobs training program that brings together our nation’s service members and the solar energy industry to prepare military personnel in “transitioning military” status for solar-related careers. The program’s training locations recently expanded to 10 military installations across the country with plans to increase the number of program graduates from 291 to 2,500.

    For more information on Solar Ready Vets, click here.

    Solar Ready Vets Pre-Application Packet

    Solar Ready Vets Employer Partner Factsheet

  • Veterans in Solar: The Mission

    Operation Free is committed to continuing our work to promote veterans as ideal candidates for employment in the rapidly growing solar industry. We understand that the solar industry is vital to strengthening our national security. Operation Free will continuously engage our defense, political, and policy expert community about the Solar Ready Vets program. Additionally, we are proud to provide our Military 101 Training program to Solar Ready Vets staff and partners. Follow @OperationFree on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates on Solar Ready Vets!

  • Veterans in Solar: Intro

    Operation Free’s co-authored report, Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, looks at the state of veterans working in the solar industry. While this new generation of veterans bring the skills needed to excel in this growing industry, the report also finds many veterans pursue careers in solar as a means of continued service to country.


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