Obama, Sanders Propose Solar Panel Initiatives

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President Obama and presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have both proposed initiative plans that would encourage low- to middle-income Americans to acquire solar power.

Computerworld.com reports that this week, Obama proposed an incentive program that would increase access to solar panel installation for lower-earning Americans who previously could not afford it. The proposal also hopes to create hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs around the country.

A specific component of the proposal is to install 300 megawatts’ worth of solar panel and other renewable energy installations in federally subsidized housing, a lofty goal three times as large as the White House’s original proposal.

Another part of the proposal is the formation of the National Community Solar Partnership that would provide solar power access to the 50% of household and businesses that are unable to afford or install solar panels on their roof space. The partnership will also provide support to states that develop statewide and local solar incentive programs.

Community solar farms, rather than individual solar panels, make up the next largest solar energy market in the country according to data from GTM Research. By 2017, community solar farms is expected to increase it market size seven-fold, and by 2020 the farms will be able to produce 500 million watts every year.

Other objectives of Obama’s proposal include improving solar power education and job training. In 2014, the solar power industry generated 31,000 jobs. Since solar power jobs have been recorded by the Solar Jobs Census in 2010, employment in the field has increased by 86%.

Meanwhile, Sanders this week proposed a bill in Congress that would provide federal funding for solar energy installation in community facilities, public housing, and low-income households. The Low Income Solar Act (LISA) would provide $200 million in federal funds through the Department of Energy.

“While the cost of solar panels has gone down in recent years, it is still out of reach for millions of low-income families that need it the most,” Sanders said. “Families across this country struggle to pay electricity bills and access to solar energy can help reduce these costs.”

That being said, the average cost of solar panels have gone down by 80% since 2008.

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