Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative
President Obama announced a new initiative to help improve access to solar panels and energy efficiency to more Americans. The Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative is specifically focusing on low to moderate income communities and veterans.
This is not a free giveaway. It is a partnership between several governmental agencies to promote new financing options, increase workforce training, and increase technical support for states and communities. The goal is to bring 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar to low- and moderate- income families by 2020. This is a 10x increase from President Obama’s initial goal set years ago.
More jobs and workforce training
Solar jobs are increasing 12 times faster than the rest of the US economy. The Department of Energy (DOE) has created the Solar Training Network to improve access to solar and energy efficiency workforce training for those most in need of it.
They are improving diversity in the solar panel industry by connecting trainers, solar employers, and interested people from low- and middle income communities and veterans. Their plan to get another 25,000 people trained to reach the goal of 75,000 people trained by 2020.
Financing keeping PACE
We wrote a blog on Solar Financing Options last year, which talked about Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans. With PACE loans, homeowners can get low interest loans for solar and energy efficiency projects for their home through the local government. However, PACE deployment was slowed down when federal mortgage agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disagreed with some of the details. But even with this road bump, over 100,00 PACE loans have been issued.
With the new initiative, the DOE has released an updated draft Best Practices Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing for public comment in order to resolve the issues and help the program expand. The DOE is also working with Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Veterans’ Administration (VA) to clear the way for PACE financing for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages and VA-backed mortgages.
The DOE has created the Community Solar Challenge which will award a total of $100k in prizes to help low income communities deploy community solar to reduce the municipality and low income residents’ energy bills. Community solar can reduce energy bills for schools, hospitals, and government buildings, saving tax dollars.
Along with Health and Human Services (HHS), the DOE is providing technical support to assist communities with technical and logistical issues. Organizations in 36 states are committing to projects of over 280MW of solar projects that will reduce energy bills. DOE’s Department of Indian Energy (IE) is providing $7M to help remote villages in Alaska deploy solar energy.
But why hear it from us?
President Obama released a video with an overview of the Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative. You can watch it for yourself here. The White House put out a summary of the program here. There’s a lot more included in this initiative, which promises to help through barriers for more solar installations and jobs.