The Obama Administration wants to make solar energy available to every American regardless of income. In that spirit, the White House just announced a partnership with six federal agencies – the Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative – to bring 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar to low- and moderate- income families by 2020. The goal is a tenfold increase over the president’s initial target set in his Climate Action Plan, which called for 100 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy on federally-assisted affordable housing by 2020.
“Solar panels are no longer for wealthy folks who live where the sun shines every day. They are already a reality for Americans and communities all across the country,” Obama said in a video statement. “Today we’re offering even more families and communities the chance to choose cleaner sources of energy that save you money and protect the planet for all of us.”
The initiative involves the Departments of Energy (DOE), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS), Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To achieve the administration’s 1 GW goal, the government plans to make it easier for homeowners to take advantage of the Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program that allows homeowners and veterans the opportunity to install solar panels and make energy efficiency improvements at no up-front cost, paying for solar and energy efficiency retrofits through future savings on energy bills.
According to a fact sheet released by the White House, the initiative includes more than 120 new solar and energy efficiency commitments from the private, state, local and philanthropic sectors in 36 states. The commitments represent $287 million in investment and nearly 280 MW of community solar and low-and moderate income solar deployment. The White House said that the United States generates 30 times more solar power than eight years ago before the president took office and that the cost of solar energy systems has been reduced by more than 70 percent. The administration also said that the solar industry is adding jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has a plan to increase American solar power 700 percent by 2027. Clinton wants to deploy half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term and enough clean energy to provide electricity to every home in the United States within 10 years. Her opponent in the general election, Republican nominee Donald Trump, has shown a preference for fossil fuels over clean energy. Trump recently tapped a fossil fuels advocate as his energy adviser and is considering appointing someone from the fracking industry to be the nation’s next energy secretary.
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