Under the president's instruction, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided funding to boost the country's solar energy Thursday, while encouraging business leaders to deploy solar energy in their communities.
As part of the Solar Summit at the White House, the DOE announced $15 million to help communities across the nation develop multi-year solar energy plans to install affordable solar electricity for homes and businesses.
The Solar Market Pathways program will support leaders and the state, local and tribal levels to crush policy and market barriers, according to the White House. A large focus will be community solar programs and local financing mechanisms, like commercial property assessed clean energy (PACE).
“As part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, solar energy is helping families and businesses throughout the U.S. access affordable, clean renewable power,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said. "The Energy Department is committed to further driving down the cost of solar energy and supporting innovative community-based programs—creating more jobs, reducing carbon pollution and boosting economic growth.”
The administration also announced the Capital Solar Challenge, directing federal agencies, the military installations and federally-subsidized structures to identify potential solar opportunities to at federal facilities across the national capital region. The DOE and General Services Administration are in charge of the challenge and are asked to focus on putting solar power on federal rooftops, covered parking and applicable open land. To lower their cost of electricity, the program will seek to use aggregated solar purchases, power purchases agreements and creative energy performance contracts.
The White House used the Solar Summit to recognize those who have set an example in deploying easing the process for others to adopt the form of clean energy. The following 10 people were declared "Champions of Change":
- Jessica Bailey, director of Commercial and Industrial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority
- Donnel Baird, Founder and CEO, BlocPower
- Kate Bowman, Solar Project Coordinator, Utah Clean Energy
- Elyse Cherry, CEO, Boston Community Capital
- Ismael Guerrero, executive director, Denver Housing Authority
- Peter H. Marte, CEO, Hannah Solar LLC
- Henry Red Cloud, founder and sole proprietor of Lakota Solar Enterprises
- Anya Schoolman, executive director of Community Power Network
- Tim Sears, co-founder, GRID Alternatives
- Rajendra Singh, D. Houser Banks professor, Clemson University
“We applaud President Obama for recognizing these outstanding leaders in the solar industry with the coveted Champions of Change award," said Rhone Resch, CEO and president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, of which GRID Alternatives, Hannah Solar and Boston Community Capital are members.
“Without question, the Obama administration has been the most solar-friendly ever, and we congratulate the president for holding [Thursday's] White House Solar Summit."
White House counselor John Podesta, who helped Moniz introduce the Solar Market Pathways program, asked the Summit crowd of business leaders to envision how much change they could affect if they sought to emulate the work of "Champions of Change."
"We need leaders like you in the coming weeks and months to deploy solar power in your communities," Podesta said, according to The Hill.
"If you do, we can curb the dangerous greenhouse gas emissions that are damaging our climate, we can make our communities more resilient against severe weather, we can bring clean affordable energy to American homes and businesses and we can create jobs and create opportunities for American workers."
With 143,000 workers in the U.S., the solar industry's employment has grown by more than 50 percent since 2010.
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