President Barack Obama made several announcements about programs designed to increase solar energy generation and economic stability ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit schedule to start this week.
First, Obama announced an aggressive plan to install more than 35 megawatts of solar in rural America. The Department of Agriculture has pledged to spend $68 million on energy efficiency upgrades and new solar installations, Obama said Thursday.
Of 540 planned renewable energy and efficiency projects, 240 are solar installations.
In addition to increasing efficiency and adding renewable energy generation in rural areas, Obama said the Department of Housing and Urban Development is clarifying one of its major funding programs for economic development and affordable housing communities. HUD will encourage solar and energy-efficiency projects to apply for those funds and to outfit affordable housing communities with solar panels.
These programs alone are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 300 million metric tons by 2030.
The rural and urban projects combined are expected to save more than $10 billion in energy costs.
In addition to investing in solar projects and funding, the Obama administration sees solar as a way forward for veterans. He announced that three military bases will offer pilot programs training active duty military to install solar panels, so they will be able to work in the growing industry when they leave the military.
The announcements came days before more than 300,000 people converged on New York City to protest for greater efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The People’s Climate March last Sunday comes ahead of the UN Climate Summit and aims to push US lawmakers and delegates to commit to environmentally sound policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the effects of global warming.
The march has been making headlines for more than a week and has generated significant publicity. Corporate America has responded to the march even before it even happened.
Several major businesses, including PepsiCo and Patagonia, have pledged their support for the march and have made their own green commitments. PepsiCo vowed to phase out all hydrofluorocarbons by 2020. Patagonia, already noted for its green practices, will shuttered its New York stores Sunday and encouraged employees and customers to march.
With more vigorous environmental policies, the US solar industry is expected to grow even faster.