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Trump Energy Dept. Boasts About Reaching Obama's Solar Cost Reduction Goal
As the Trump administration tries to dismantle years of hard-won climate regulations in favor of fossil fuel development, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) boasted about reaching a renewable energy goal, enacted by President Obama, three years early.
The DOE announced Tuesday that the solar industry has achieved the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the SunShot Initiative—a program that launched in 2011 to cut costs to six cents per kilowatt-hour in order to broadly deploy solar energy systems around the nation.
The irony was made clear in a Bloomberg article, which pointed out that the Trump administration is "taking credit for this milestone even though the new administration is skeptical of renewable power."
In May, the Trump administration announced plans to put the DOE's budget for its renewable energy and energy efficiency program on the chopping block with a proposal to slash it by 70 percent.
Daniel Simmons, the acting assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), said in a statement about meeting the SunShot goal: "With the impressive decline in solar prices, it is time to address additional emerging challenges. As we look to the future, DOE will focus new solar R&D on the Secretary's priorities, which include strengthening the reliability and resilience of the electric grid while integrating solar energy."
But as Bloomberg noted, Simmons once criticized wind and solar for being "expensive and will increase the price of electricity." The fossil fuels champion has also served multiple roles at the Institute for Energy Research, a Koch-affiliated think tank that tried to abolish the office Simmons now heads.
"I don't know why they are touting it," Jack Spencer, vice president of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation and a former member of Trump's Energy Department transition team, told Bloomberg. "I think it should be abolished right away as should all government subsidies."
Surprisingly, the EERE announced new initiatives instead, and is putting $82 million in funding for early-stage research toward concentrating solar power and power electronics technologies, and set a new goal to further reduce utility-scale solar costs to 3 cents per kilowatt hour by 2030.
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