July 20 2016
Jillian Kay Melchior
With just months left in office, President Obama has intensified his push for adoption of solar power. This week, several agencies announced plans to increase solar usage among low-income and middle-class households, the Hill reports.
Here are the details on the so-called Clean Energy for All Americans Initiative:
The most significant piece of Tuesday’s announcement is a policy change to expand access to the Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which allows homeowners to install renewable and energy efficiency projects at no upfront cost, paying the costs over time through taxes.
The Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs will now allow some people using those agencies’ financing mechanisms to buy houses with existing tax debts under PACE. The administration expects that will make it easier both to sell and buy homes with those improvements.
… The Department of Energy is also putting new effort into its project to train solar workers by launching a new networking program. That department’s also unveiling a competitive grant program for communities to develop innovating ways to expand solar access.
The plan amounts to… more of the same. As the Institute for Energy Research has noted, between 2010 and 2015, the Obama administration poured a staggering $39 billion in taxpayer money into solar energy every single year.
Yet even the Hill’s optimistic write-up hints at the lame returns:
Generating capacity in the solar industry has skyrocketed under Obama, growing more than threefold from 2008 to 2015. Meanwhile, costs have fallen dramatically and job growth greatly outpaces that in the rest of the economy.
Still, solar power is a small sliver of the country’s total electricity generation, representing only 0.6 percent last year, according to the Energy Information Administration.
You can’t say the Obama administration hasn’t tried. Still, the next administration should learn from these very disappointing yields on a massive taxpayer investment.