On Tuesday, President Obama announced plans to make solar accessible to all Americans, regardless of income or housing situation. In a post on Medium, the White House wrote: “President Obama is committed to providing every American family with the option to transition to solar energy and make home improvements to cut their energy bills.”
Bring it on, Mr. President!
Despite the fact that solar is growing at a rapid clip and — in many cases — is cheaper than ever, there are still significant obstacles to going solar. For many moderate to low-income Americans, buying solar panels outright is still too expensive. And for people who rent, live in multi-family housing, or don’t have their own roof-space, going solar simply isn’t something they have control over.
As the president said in his announcement video, “Solar panels are no longer for wealthy folks who live where the sun shines every day. Today we’re offering even more families and communities to choose clean energy.”
So with the help of six federal agencies, the Clean Energy Savings for All Americans Initiative does the following:
It expands the Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which allows homeowners to access solar energy at no upfront cost. Instead, you pay back the initial cost over time with your property taxes.
It establishes the “Community Solar Challenge.” Community solar programs allow individuals to purchase solar power from a centralized solar array. These programs — which have been successful in many parts of the country — bring clean solar power to those unable to install panels on their own home. Through the Department of Energy, dozens of low-income communities will receive up to $100,000 to develop their own models to increase solar access.
It better allocates funds to increase energy efficiency.
It launches the “Solar Training Network,” which helps low and moderate-income Americans find good-paying jobs in the industry.
And that’s not even all of it.
All in all, this is a big step forward. We enthusiastically applaud the president’s commitment to bringing solar to more Americans, because the transition to clean, renewable energy must include everyone.