The Obama Administration has taken another step to mainstream solar energy by making it much more easily accessible to low- and middle-income households and veterans.
The goal is to bring 1 gigawatt of solar to these families by 2020, a 10-fold increase.
Under the “Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative,” PACE financing for solar systems and energy efficiency upgrades will be available nationwide. Technical assistance will help states adopt the program.
PACE allows homeowners to finance these improvements with no upfront cost. Instead, the cost is paid back over time from the energy savings generated by solar and energy efficiency. A small charge is added to peoples’ property tax bill.
This is in addition to low interest rate mortgages offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Also, a new Solar Training Network will expand help for vets and people with low incomes to get jobs in the solar industry. Led by The Solar Foundation, a central clearinghouse will be created and a Solar Jobs Strategy Commissions set up to foster cooperation among training providers and employers.
President Obama’s goal is to train 75,000 people by 2020. 50,000 people have already been trained.
About 10% of solar employees are vets:
Under the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Instructor Training Network, about 1100 certified solar instructors have been trained who, in turn, have trained over 30,000 students at 400 community colleges. The program began with $10 million from the Recovery Act.
DOE is already starting a program in Baltimore to expand solar into low income communities and train residents for solar jobs. They are looking into expand access to solar for renters and other individuals and installing solar on public housing.
- People that receive financial assistance for winter heating under the Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will be able to use 15-25% of annual grants for low cost energy efficiency improvements, including renewable energy.
- A Community Solar Challenge will award communities up to $100,000 in cash and technical assistance for increased solar deployment, particularly in low income communities.
- 120 housing authorities, rural electric co-ops, utilities and organizations across 36 states will invest a combined $287 million to get 280 megawatts of solar projects installed in these communities. This brings the total to over $800 million and 491 MW.
All this will be accomplished through new informational websites, national summits that bring banks together and a Series of Clean Energy Savings for All Summits across the US. The idea is to bring local and state officials together with community organizations and the public to develop partnerships to accelerate clean energy. The first summit takes place on August 9 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
In October, a National Funding Resources and Training Summit for Vulnerable Communities will take place in Washington DC. It will cover “just transition workforce development”, financial resources and entrepreneurship development, and health and environmental training and outreach.
Read our article, Obama Does It Again: Nationwide Community Solar For All.
Here are more details about the “Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative”: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/07/19/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-clean-energy-savings-all