White House commits to powering up on renewables

The White House has revealed fresh support for the solar power sector, promising to promote the installation of new generation in federally subsidized housing and on military bases. The Obama administration announced $15 million in funding late last week under a new Solar Market Pathways program that's designed to bolster shared or community solar programs and local funding initiatives.

The commitment to community funding, made at the White House's Solar Summit event, involves a partnership between the Agriculture Department, the Department of Energy (DoE) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to bolster the adoption of solar power in rural areas. This will result in a series of tools and finance options for cooperative solar programs, the White House said.

In addition, the White House will step up efforts to encourage solar installations on federal property through the new Capital Solar Challenge, which will encourage subsidized complexes to find solar installation opportunities. The new package of measures is designed to deliver on President Obama's Climate Action Plan, unveiled last year, which aimed to install 100MW of rooftop solar energy on federally subsidized housing by 2020, more than tripling existing capacity onsite.

Last week, the U.S. Army also announced a solar array project that would provide about a quarter of the electricity at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., as part of its commitment to deploy 3GW of renewable energy by 2025. The DoE also unveiled a draft Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee Solicitation, which would make $2.5 billion in loan guarantees available for innovative solar energy projects, with a focus on distributed energy generation. This was part of a $4 billion draft loan solicitation for greenhouse gas reduction projects announced last Wednesday.

Other recently announced commitments by the White House included the release of a handbook for solar deployments and a guide to federal financing for green energy from the DoE.

Obama's push for climate change reduction technologies comes in the wake of the League of Conservation Voters and the political wing of the Natural Resources Defense Council starting the LeadingGreen coalition, an initiative to raise funds for federal candidates and for environmental lobbying efforts in general. The joint venture will raise and contribute $5 million in donations directly to candidates, in the hopes of protecting the Democratic majority in the Senate and making climate change a wedge issue for candidates.

This story first appeared at BusinessGreen.com. White House photo by spirit of america via Shutterstock.