U.S. government outlines solar power boost for the poor

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  • Barack Obama
    Barack Obama
    44th president of the United States

By Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House took steps this week to boost the installation of solar power and other renewable energy in federally subsidized housing and increase the number of jobs in the industry for poor people. The U.S. administration has set a goal of installing 300 megawatts of solar and other renewable energy in affordable housing by 2020, tripling a goal President Barack Obama set in 2013 that has already been surpassed. It is "really important for everyone to have access to solar and other renewable energy technologies both for the energy itself and the cost savings there, and also the employment opportunities," Brian Deese, a climate and energy adviser to Obama, told reporters in a teleconference on Monday. Solar energy makes up less than 1 percent of the power generated in the United States, but the industry is growing rapidly. The 300 megawatts is enough for about 50,000 homes and is part of a wider White House goal to increase solar energy. Asked whether power companies could try to recover costs to the grid of setting up renewable power and undercut any savings for low- to middle-income consumers, Deese said part of the effort is to arm people with more information to make good decisions. The administration will offer technical assistance to affordable housing groups to install solar power and make it easier for homeowners to borrow up to $25,000 for efficiency and solar projects. In addition, AmeriCorps will help train 200 poor people to get jobs in the solar industry. Representative Elijah Cummings, who lives in Baltimore, said solar energy "not only serves our planet by reducing pollution and battling climate change, it also serves people by lowering their energy bills, by giving our neighbors in struggling communities more money in their pockets each month." (Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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