Today President Obama (D) is traveling to Las Vegas to make remarks about expanding renewable energy and energy efficiency programs including $1 billion in additional loan guarantees to support distributed solar and energy projects and allowing residential Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for single-family homes. He’ll make the remarks this evening at the Clean Energy Summit, which is cosponsored by Sen. Harry Reid, Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
It's the latest move the President has made to support clean energy. Most recently he announced the Clean Power Plan to help the U.S. transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Even ahead of his remarks renewable energy advocates and companies were lining up in support of the actions (The White House did release a fact sheet outlining the steps earlier in the day). "These actions by the administration clear the way for communities to generate their own power and stabilize the local grid, by providing a simple financing mechanism for homes and businesses to go solar,” said Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President Rhone Resch. “Today's announcement cuts through red tape and provides much-needed clarity to developers ready to build out solar projects in underserved areas. This is truly a key piece in the puzzle, empowering Americans looking to take control of their own energy.”
PACE financing allows homeowners to finance solar through their property taxes. However, since such a funding mechanism can be interpreted as a lien against the property, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the quasi-governmental home financing organizations, said PACE financing could invalidate its leases, making the PACE option harder for homeowners to access. Now the Federal Housing Administration will soon issue guidance on how homes with PACE financed energy projects can be purchased and refinanced within FHA-based financing. The FHA administrator is sending governors across the U.S. letters about the new guidance. Other organizations, including the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy|, also praised the actions. “The executive actions and private sector commitments announced today by President Obama will increase access to energy efficiency and help ensure that all households benefit from low-cost technologies to help cut energy waste and save on their energy bills,” said Lauren Ross, ACEEE local policy manager. “These actions build on the administration’s longstanding commitment to advance clean energy, create jobs, and lower energy costs in low- and moderate-income communities.”
The White House fact sheet observed the importance of solar power to the economy. “Last year, the United States brought online as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy,” it said. Adding: “Since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by 50 percent. In fact, distributed solar prices fell 10 to 20 percent in 2014 alone and currently 44 states have pricing structures that encourage increased penetration of distributed energy resources.”
The White House also announced a DOD Privatized Housing Solar Challenge to provide solar power to housing on more than 40 military bases across the U.S., $24 million for 11 ARPA-E projects to double the amount of energy each solar panel can produce from the sun and is inviting distributed energy projects like solar power to apply to the $10 billion available in loan guarantees.Tweet