In what could be a boon to electrical manufacturers, reps, distributors and contractors who are already building a presence in the rooftop solar market and a challenge to the rest to reconsider their places on the sidelines, the White House announced a new initiative aimed at promoting the spread of community solar in cities throughout the nation.
The administration today unveiled a new program intended to provide greater access to solar power to renters and those who do not have adequate roof space to install solar panels by offering support to state programs to develop community solar. The initiative seeks to increase access to solar for all Americans, including low- and moderate-income communities and expand opportunities join the solar workforce, according to the White House website at whitehouse.gov.
Key components of the initiative include:
- Launching a National Community Solar Partnership, including issuing a guide to Support States In Developing Community Solar Programs;
- Setting a goal to install 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy in federally subsidized housing, triple the original goal, and providing technical assistance to make it easier to install solar, including clarifying how to use Federal funding;
- Housing authorities, rural electric co-ops, power companies and organizations in more than 20 states across the country are committing to put in place more than 260 solar energy projects, including projects to help low- and moderate- income communities save on their energy bills and further community solar;
- More than $520 million in independent commitments from philanthropic and impact investors, states, and cities to advance community solar or scale up solar and energy efficiency for low- and moderate- income households;
- AmeriCorps funding to deploy solar and create jobs in underserved communities;
- Expanding solar energy education and opportunities for job training; and
- The solar industry is also setting its own, independent goal of becoming the most diverse sector of the U.S. energy industry, and a number of companies are announcing that they are taking steps to build a more inclusive solar workforce.
White House background: Increasing Solar Access for All Americans
Washington Post story: Many Americans still lack access to solar energy. Here’s how Obama plans to change that
Wall Street Journal opinion piece (subscription gated): Obama’s Renewable-Energy Fantasy