White House reveals clean energy commitments
President Obama unveiled a set of impressive private and public sector commitments aimed at accelerating the nation’s transition to a cleaner and more productive energy economy.
The private sector commitments, combined with a robust set of executive actions, will expand opportunities to install energy saving technologies in households, while also driving the development of low-cost clean energy technologies.
The president said today’s actions build on a longstanding commitment to create a clean energy economy for all Americans, will help states meet the targets in the Clean Power Plan announced earlier this month, and set us on a path to reach the plan's goals, including:
- Achieving an economy-wide target to reduce emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels in 2025;
- Increase the share of renewables – beyond hydropower – in their respective electricity generation mixes to the level of 20% by 2030;
- Installing 300 megawatts of renewable energy across federally subsidized housing by 2020; and
- Doubling energy productivity by 2030.
Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, said, “On the heels of EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which includes energy efficiency as the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions, the Administration continues to advance energy efficiency as the cornerstone to building the modern American energy economy. It is clear that the federal government and the private sector recognize that deploying energy efficiency technologies and practices is the most important and effective means to realizing the goal of doubling U.S. energy productivity by 2030.”
The benefits of energy-efficient practices are wide-ranging: the development and implementation of energy-efficient products, technologies and services save consumers and businesses money, drive innovation and productivity, support a cleaner environment and enhance energy security and reliability.
In fact, an economic analysis by the Rhodium Group shows that doubling energy productivity by 2030 would save $327 billion annually in avoided energy costs, create 1.3 million net new jobs, reduce imports to represent a mere 7% of overall energy consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions to one-third below the level emitted in 2005.
According to a White House statement, 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.
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.
Americans are also more empowered to capture opportunities to improve efficiency and cut energy waste. In fact, up to one third of households can track their energy use and learn ways to make choices on how to save on their energy bills. Since President Obama took office, the U.S. Department of Energy has already put in place appliance efficiency standards that will save American consumers nearly $480 billion on their utility bills through 2030, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program continues to help save consumers more than $34 billion per year going forward.
President Obama announced a series of executive actions and private sector commitments that will continue to promote the use and development of smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help households save on their energy bills and help America transition to cleaner, and more distributed energy resources. These include:
- Making $1 billion in additional loan guarantee authority available and announcing new guidelines for distributed energy projects utilizing innovative technology and states looking to access this financing;
- Unlocking residential Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for single-family housing to make is easier for Americans to invest in clean energy technologies;
- Launching a new HUD and DOE program to provide home owners with a simple way to measure and improve the energy efficiency of their homes, by increasing homeowners borrowing power;
- Creating a DOD Privatized Housing Solar Challenge, and announcing companies are committing to provide solar power to housing on over 40 military bases across the United States, while saving military families money on energy bills and making military communities more energy secure;
- Announcing $24 million for 11 projects in seven states to develop innovative solar technologies that double the amount of energy each solar panel can produce from the sun;
- Approving a transmission line that will support bringing online a 485-megawatt photovoltaic facility that will be constructed in Riverside County and produce enough renewable energy to power more than 145,000 homes; and
- Creating an Interagency Task Force to Promote a Clean Energy Future for All Americans; and announcing independent commitments from local governments, utilities, and businesses that are stepping up to drive energy efficiency in more than 300,000 low-income households and investing more than $220 million in energy saving activities for veterans and low-income customers to help decrease their energy bills.
In response to the President's plan to expand markets for solar energy and energy efficiency Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) relayed the industry's support of the plan.
"Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is a simple, cost-effective way for Americans to take ownership of their energy use and generation. 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. 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.
"Today, as the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America, solar thrives because of the hard work and innovation of its 174,000 workers. When smart policies, like PACE, cut through market barriers and inefficiencies, the winners are American homeowners and small business owners who can now choose affordable solar energy. Today's win-win announcements strengthen our nation's security with clean, reliable, domestic renewable energy while driving billions of dollars in private investment into communities that need it most."
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