The Obama Administration has announced a new coordinated effort aimed at increasing solar installations on low and moderate income homes.
According to the White House press release, since President Obama took office, solar generation has increased by 30 times, with the solar industry growing 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. This growth is largely due to increased consumer awareness, a decrease in solar prices and federal initiatives to increase access to residential solar power.
The new solar effort is a massive cross government partnership between the Department of Energy (DOE), Housing and Urban Development (DOE), Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS), Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
These six notable federal agencies are joining forces for the “Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative,” with the ultimate goal of increasing access to solar energy and promoting energy-efficiency across the U.S. with particular attention given to lower income housing.
In collaboration with state agencies, the federal initiative has also stated the ambitious goal of bringing 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar to market. This goal is a 10-fold increase and an expansion of the initial target President Obama set in his Climate Action Plan in 2013.
The original goal set in the 2013 Climate Action Plan was to install 100 MW of renewable energy on federally-assisted, low-income housing by 2020.
The work starts now for these federal agencies. Starting soon, the HUD and VA are releasing new guidelines to improve clean-energy financing for builders and developers and the DOE is launching a “Community Solar Challenge.” More initiatives will be announced through the year.
According to the release, more than 120 housing authorities, rural electric co-ops, power companies and organizations in more than 36 states are committing to investing $287 million in the solar industry. They’ll also be developing plans to put in place more than 280 MW of solar projects. The six federal agencies will also be looking to the private sector to achieve these ambitious goals.
Even with these developments in the solar industry, solar power is still only a small segment of the country’s total electricity generation, representing only 0.6 percent last year, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Time will tell if these new initiatives encourage more builders to include solar as standard, but with solar costs continuing to decline as consumer awareness grows, the time could be now.
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