Florida Power & Light Co., Veterans Florida and numerous advocacy organizations and businesses today announced a new partnership designed to link U.S. military veterans with careers in solar energy development in Florida.
Florida is home to 20 military installations and more than 1.5 million veterans, and in collaboration with our partners, FPL plans to conduct educational outreach across all branches of the military to increase awareness of growing opportunities in solar energy in Florida – including the construction of new FPL solar sites, which is expected to employ more than 1,500 people in 2017 at locations throughout Florida in various roles, including equipment operators, electricians and general laborers.
"We're thrilled to team up with FPL to help connect veterans with potential jobs in solar energy," said Jim Bagby, chairman of the board of directors of Veterans Florida, a non-profit corporation created by the state to help veterans transition to civilian life in Florida. "High-tech fields like renewable energy are fast-growing in Florida, and we're committed to helping veterans prepare for their next careers. Construction of a universal solar power plant can be a great opportunity for veterans looking to transition into civilian life. By gaining on-the-job experience and taking advantage of additional training that's not being offered elsewhere, veterans in Florida can get a leg up on their future."
Interested veterans can visit www.VeteransFlorida.org/solar for information about solar job openings, job fairs and training opportunities as they become available.
"FPL and the entire NextEra Energy team take great pride in our commitment to supporting our nation's veterans who have given so selflessly in recent years," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "Through this partnership, we now have a unique opportunity to expand upon that commitment by connecting these American heroes with jobs and educational opportunities right here at home in America's growing renewable energy industry."
FPL recently announced plans to build nearly 2,100 megawatts of new solar in Florida in the coming years. Based on the technology currently being installed, this amount of new solar would translate into the installation of nearly 9 million solar panels, which, laid end to end, would stretch from Miami to Sydney, Australia – almost half way around the world.
FPL and its parent company, NextEra Energy Inc., have a long history of successfully recruiting veterans. Currently, FPL and other NextEra Energy subsidiaries directly employ more than 2,000 military veterans and indirectly support countless more through billions of dollars in major infrastructure projects throughout the United States.
"Through this effort, veterans will have the opportunity to play an exciting role in the development of some of the largest universal solar energy centers ever constructed in the eastern United States," said Matt Valle, FPL's vice president of development and a former U.S. Navy nuclear submarine officer. "It is our sincere hope that our collective efforts will result in a meaningful pathway for veterans looking to transition to a career in the renewable energy industry."
Over the course of the next year, construction at new FPL solar facilities is expected to employ more than 1,500 people. The bulk of the hiring at each site will be conducted by Blattner Energy and OCI – two of the nation's premier providers of renewable energy engineering, procurement and construction services – to build the new universal solar projects. Construction is expected to begin this month, and hiring will ramp up through the spring.
In addition, as part of the partnership, FPL is working with Indian River State College (IRSC) to create cutting-edge training and coursework in solar energy. While the courses will be open to public enrollment, interested veterans can visit www.VeteransFlorida.org to find out about federal educational assistance programs that may help them cover the cost of course fees.
"FPL and IRSC have been collaborating since 2006 to implement a highly successful Electrical Power Technology degree program, preparing graduates for excellent jobs," said Dr. Kevin Cooper, dean of advanced technology at IRSC. "The solar offerings we are now creating will offer the chance to learn about an evolving, growing field, and that's important for the future of our economy."
Additionally, IRSC will host a job fair on April 12, 2017, at its main campus in Ft. Pierce, Fla., with support from members of the solar veterans partnership.
Founding members of the partnership include:
- Blattner Energy
- CareerSource Florida network
- Florida National Army & Air Guard, U.S. Department of Defense
- Indian River State College
- NextEra Energy Inc. and Florida Power & Light Company
- Overland Contracting Inc., a Black & Veatch Company
- Veterans Council of Indian River County
- Veterans Florida