Clean energy supporters celebrate Obama's Year of Action
By Barbara Vergetis Lundin, Fierce Energy
Published: May 12, 2014
President Obama has announced that 2014 will be a year of action, beginning with more than 300 private and public sector commitments (from multifamily housing, homebuilder and home improvement companies; rural electric cooperatives; commercial retailers, food service, and hospitality companies; and the public sector, including state and city organizations, as well as school districts) to create jobs and cut carbon pollution by advancing solar deployment and energy efficiency.
These commitments amount to more than 850 MW of solar deployed, as well as energy efficiency investments that will lower bills for more than 1 billion square feet of buildings.
The administration has issued three proposed and four final energy efficiency standards, expanded the Better Buildings Challenge to include multifamily housing, and announced new funding for innovative energy efficiency projects in the U.S.
The White House projects that these actions, among others, will result in more than $26 billion in savings by government, consumers and businesses, while creating new jobs and reducing carbon pollution by 380 million metric tons. New executive actions are also intended to build a skilled solar workforce and strengthen building codes.
To enable a skilled workforce to support the growth of solar deployment, the Department of Energy's Solar Instructor Training Network will support training programs at community colleges across the country -- enabling 50,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020 -- building upon SunShot's existing Solar Instructor Training Network of nearly 400 community colleges in 49 states.
Building on the success of the Defense Department's efforts to purchase renewables, the General Services Administration is identifying opportunities for potential Federal Aggregated Solar Procurements in both the National Capital Region and Northern California. The effort seeks to bring together multiple federal agencies to capitalize on economies of scale with the goal of lower electricity bills for individual sites and increased renewable energy production -- while also reducing internal agency overhead costs by sharing procurement and project management resources.
The Treasury Department and IRS will soon clarify how certain investment rules relate to renewable energy installations. The new guidance will provide clarity regarding the treatment of renewable energy installations in real estate investment trusts (REIT), thereby helping to promote investment in the sector.
"With the price of renewable energy plummeting, there is no longer a question of choosing between an affordable energy option or a low-carbon option -- that choice is now one and the same. The initiatives President Obama announced will hasten America's transition to an affordable, low-carbon future," said Letha Tawney, senior associate, Charge Program, World Resources Institute. "Many utilities, businesses, and consumers are already enjoying the cost savings of cleaner energy."
Research from the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) supports this statement.
"As highlighted in the 2014 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, clean energy technologies in the energy efficiency, renewable energy and natural gas sectors are playing a larger role in the nation's energy production, distribution and use," said BCSE President Lisa Jacobson. "As we look forward, the diverse portfolio of clean energy options can meet the country's energy needs in an affordable and reliable manner, while creating jobs and lowering emissions."