Yesterday the White House held a solar summit where it called on businesses and non-profits to support more solar power throughout the U.S. At the summit the President awarded members of the solar community while pushing for more solar deployment and jobs.
“Since President Obama took office, we have made significant advances in clean energy,” wrote Dan Utech, special assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. “And for good reason. Solar is a smart investment. The average cost of solar panels has dropped by more than 60percent, and the cost for a solar photovoltaic electric system has declined by about 50 percent. The numbers tell an important story: There has never been a time when solar is more affordable and more available to so many Americans. Solar is not just a prospect; it’s a reality,” he added.
At the summit the Utech and the President recognized 10 solar “Champions of Change” from across the U.S. Among them he recognized the efforts of Jessica Bailey, director of Commercial and Industrial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) with the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority; Donnel Baird, founder of BlocPower; Kate Bowman, solar project coordinator with Utah Clean Energy; Elyse Cherry, CEO of Boston Community Capital; Ismael Guerrero, executive director of the Denver Housing Authority, Peter Marte, CEO of Hannah Solar LLC; Henry Red Cloud, founder of Lakota Solar Enterprises; Anya Schoolman, executive director of Community Power Network; Tim Sears, co-founder of GRID Alternatives and Rajendra Singh, D. Houser Banks professor at Clemson University.
During the summit the administration launched new efforts to expand solar and redoubled some other White House efforts. Among them it announced the $15 million Solar Market Pathways funding opportunity for community solar-type projects. It also said it is targeting installing 100 megawatts of renewable energy at federally subsidized housing by 2020.
The White House also announced it was launching an “On-Site Renewables Challenge” through the EPA’s Green Power Partnership. Under that effort, EPA’s Green Power Partners are challenged to double their use of on-site renewable energy, including solar energy. EPA will also track and update their progress on a quarterly basis.
To help reinvigorate the solar commercial sector, the Energy Department plans to introduce a Commercial Solar Deployment Playbook. “The playbook will help businesses to identify low-cost financing for solar energy, provide model contracts, and offer case studies of businesses improving their bottom line by deploying solar,” the White House said. It’s also updating its Guide to Federal Financing for Clean EnergySimilarly rural America is slower to adopt solar than areas closer to urban populations. The Agriculture Department’s recently launched Rural Utility Service (RUS) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program will work with the Energy Department and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), to make it easier to deploy solar in rural areas.