Obama Administration championing solar

Metro Solar System

The Obama Administration announced Thursday that the Energy Department is pledging $15 million to help communities develop aggressive plans for installing more solar energy.

The announcement was just one news piece among several that are promising for continued solar industry growth.

“As part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, solar energy is helping families and businesses throughout the U.S. access affordable, clean renewable power,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement. "The Energy Department is committed to further driving down the cost of solar energy and supporting innovative community-based programs – creating more jobs, reducing carbon pollution and boosting economic growth.”

The $15 million Solar Market Pathways funding is meant to help individual states, communities and tribal nations find ways to cut through red tape to make solar installation more affordable and to educate consumers on the desirability and affordability of solar energy.

In addition to the Pathways money, the Obama administration announced it aims to spur solar industry growth in other ways.

The Department of Defense, the country’s biggest single energy consumer, has committed to installing 3 gigawatts of renewable electricity generation on military bases around the world between now and 2025.

The Energy Department also announced that it would fund up to $4 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

The Climate Action Plan also calls for federally-assisted housing to install more 100 megawatts of solar by 2020. The Environmental Protection Agency also announced Thursday that it aims to double its use of onsite renewable energy generation by the end of the decade.

Additionally, the Agriculture and Energy departments are partnering with rural utility cooperatives to develop tools, templates and financing options for increased distributed solar and other renewable energy generation.

The Energy Department also announced $2.5 billion in loan guaranty funds that could be used to support distributed generation and energy storage projects.

All of these announcements were made in front of some of the solar industry’s most influential leaders, who gathered in Washington, D.C. Thursday to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the solar industry. The Champions for Change Solar Summit was streamed live on the Obama Administration website.

Aside from new funding and the President’s “phone and pen” push to double the amount of solar installed in the US by 2020, the group expressed optimism about the industry’s future.

The primary concern is grid integration and cooperation with utility companies, an issue that is becoming increasingly important as utility companies protest net metering policies.