Solar Goes to Washington!


The Energy Department and the White House honor ten Solar Champions, and announce $15 million to help communities deploy more solar, as well as other steps to build on solar’s success around the country.


It was a big day for solar in Washington. And we’re not talking about panels on the White House. Today, the Obama Administration put a spotlight on solar with celebrations and announcements at the White House Solar Summit.

A $15 million boost for solar in communities

The Energy Department today announced $15 million to help communities develop multi-year solar plans to install affordable solar electricity for homes and businesses. This is to support the Administration’s goal of doubling renewable energy generation for a second time by 2020.

Although the Administration is promoting solar, its “all-of-the-above” energy strategy is still in play. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement, “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. 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 Solar Market Pathways funding opportunity announced today is part of the Department’s SunShot Initiative. The program aims to help communities develop solar deployment plans that focus on cutting red tape and building strong public-private partnerships to deploy commercial-scale solar.

Through this program, communities are expected to establish innovative financing mechanisms — such as property assessed clean energy (PACE) — and launch creative community-based initiatives. That can include shared solar programs, which let individuals and businesses own, lease, or purchase electricity from a share of a larger solar project not on their property. These projects can bring solar within reach of the 75%+ of us who can’t put it on our own roof.

The Energy Department said that the funding announced today will help drive affordable, efficient solar power in the United States and help industry partners meet the SunShot Initiative goal to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade.  

White House celebrates solar leaders and calls for solar deployment and jobs

The White House Solar Summit today honored leaders in solar as well as announcing new steps to expand solar in the U.S. For more details, see this fact sheet.

The White House celebrated these solar “Champions of Change” who are taking the initiative to spur solar deployment:

  • Jessica Bailey, Director of Commercial and Industrial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority

  • Donnel Baird, Founder and CEO, BlocPower

  • Kate Bowman, Solar Project Coordinator, Utah Clean Energy

  • Elyse Cherry, CEO, Boston Community Capital

  • Ismael Guerrero, Executive Director, Denver Housing Authority

  • Peter H. Marte, CEO, Hannah Solar LLC

  • Henry Red Cloud, Founder & Sole Proprietor of Lakota Solar Enterprises

  • Anya Schoolman, Executive Director of Community Power Network

  • Tim Sears, Co-Founder, GRID Alternatives

  • Rajendra Singh, D. Houser Banks Professor, Clemson University

All these champions deserve a hearty congratulations! We’re especially glad to see our friends GRID Alternatives on this list, along with one of their partners, Henry Red Cloud of Lakota Solar Enterprises. Their efforts have brought solar to thousands of those who need it the most. A big shout-out also to Anya Schoolman, who is doing so much to advance community solar around the country.


The White House also announced these steps to build on solar’s success, in addition to the Solar Market Pathways program:


  • Providing technical assistance and analysis to support solar at federally assisted housing.

  • Launching an “On-Site Renewables Challenge” as part of EPA’s Green Power Partnership.

  • Sharing best practices with a “Solar Deployment Playbook.”

  • Advancing solar by partnering with the Rural Utilities Service.

  • Leveraging financing tools to deploy solar, which includes an updated Guide to Federal Financing for Clean Energy.

  • Bolstering co-investment in renewable energy and natural gas — yep, we still can’t get away from “all of the above.”

  • Launching a Capital Solar Challenge to identify opportunities to deploy solar renewable energy at Federal locations across the National Capital Region.  

  • Continuing to support solar deployment at military installations, including the Fort Huachuca project.