Through a new partnership between the Departments of Energy (DOE), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS), Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Obama Administration is aggressively pursuing the goal of delivering 1 gigawatt (GW) of new solar power to low- and moderate-income Americans by 2020. This ambitious target represents a ten-fold increase above the 100 megawatts (MW) target President Obama established in his Climate Action Plan.
Dubbed the Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative, this program makes it possible for homeowners and veterans to take part in the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program to install solar panels on their rooftops and make energy-efficient retrofits to their homes with no upfront costs. These energy efficient improvements will be paid for over time through future savings on consumer energy bills.
Under President Obama’s leadership, solar generation has increased 30-fold and jobs in the sector have grown at a rate 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. This newest program strives to continue that legacy by “promoting innovative financing mechanisms, bolstering technical assistance for states and communities, driving innovation, scaling up workforce training to make sure low- and moderate-income Americans can take advantage of the jobs that come with a transition to clean energy, convening stakeholders, and working with the private and philanthropic sectors.”
Notable in this collaborative effort are some of the strategies the Administration is taking to work across agencies in helping people more readily access the benefits of solar, including:
- Releasing new guidance outlining ways properties with PACE assessments can be purchased and refinanced with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance;
- Developing a Community Solar Challenge that awards teams across the country up to $100,000, in cash prizes and technical assistance, to develop innovative models for increasing solar deployment and cutting energy bills;
- Providing technical assistance and insight to Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) grantees on their ability to access 15 – 25 percent of their annual LIHEAP funding for low cost energy efficiency improvements, including renewable energy;
- Launching the Solar Training Network, which connects solar workforce trainers, employers, and individuals interested in working in the solar industry;
- Convening a variety of stakeholders to share best practices on solar financing and overcoming barriers to deployment; and
- Collaborating with more than 120 housing authorities, rural electric co-ops, power companies, and organizations in over 36 states nationwide to invest $287 million to put in place more than 280 MW of solar energy projects.