White House Commits to More Solar and Energy Efficiency

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With so little being accomplished in Congress these days, it might seem like the federal government is powerless to do anything about climate change.

But President Obama isn’t letting that stop him.

Last Thursday, in preparation for this week’s Climate Week, the White House announced a series of public and private sector commitments, plus a slew of executive actions, to advance solar deployment and promote energy efficiency. The actions include investing $68 million in 540 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in rural areas across the country — with 240 of those being solar projects.

Other actions include implementing energy-saving measures, funding clean energy and energy efficiency for affordable housing, and strengthening both commercial and residential building codes.

The White House also announced a partnership between DOE’s Solar Instructor Training Network and up to three military bases to create a solar job training pilot for veterans. The project will connect veterans with DOE’s extensive network of more than 400 community college-based solar training institutions. We’re glad to see this deserving population get a boost to enter our thriving industry — and this is a major commitment. The network aims to help at least 50,000 highly qualified new solar installers to get into solar by 2020.

Additionally, 50 companies, states, communities, and multifamily housing leaders from across the country announced commitments for onsite solar and energy efficiency projects. The commitments represent more than 35 MW of solar deployed – enough energy to power thousands of homes – as well as energy efficiency investments that will lower energy bills for more than 400 million square feet of buildings.

Together, these actions are expected to cut carbon emissions by nearly 300 million metric tons through 2030 – equivalent to taking more than 60 million cars off the road for one year – and to save homes and businesses more than $10 billion on their energy bills.

This is not the first such action by the Obama Administration. Earlier this year, the White House hosted a Solar Summit that celebrated cross-sector leadership on solar and called for commitments to support solar deployment and jobs through the expanded use of solar in our homes, businesses, and schools. Together with this new announcement, that adds up to more than 350 private and public sector commitments to deploy 885 MW of solar and improve the energy efficiency of more than 1.4 billion square feet of buildings.

As much as we love solar, it’s good to see a focus on energy efficiency coupled with these solar commitments. The two work best together and are both crucial to cutting carbon emissions.

The full list of executive actions and private and public sector commitments can be found on the White House site.