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Joe Biden In Pocket Of BIG SUN! (Seriously, Come Get A Nice Time)
Let's take a ride in an electric car!
Joe Biden wants American energy consumers — that would be all of us — to pay less for electricity, so yesterday the White House announced plans that will help reduce the cost of clean solar energy and boost the US solar power industry at the same time. One program will help 4.5 million families get access to solar power for their homes and cut their energy bills, and another will use funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to hire more people to build out projects that generate solar electricity.
You could probably use some cheery solar energy music to accompany this news, so here's the They Might Be Giants' song "How Does The Sun Shine?" which has been stuck in my head all morning. (Be advised that, from a scientific standpoint, the song, originally from the 1950s, has been fact checked by a later TMBG song explaining that the Sun is not composed of gas but of plasma.)
So how is Joe Biden in the pocket of Big Sun this week? As the administration promised from the start, the new program is part of a "whole of government" approach to boost the transition to carbon-free energy. In this instance, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is rolling out several initiatives to make home solar more affordable , including programs aimed at helping homeowners and folks in rural areas install solar and make their homes more energy efficient.
The initiative that may have the widest effect, though, will allow people living in publicly subsidized housing to save on electricity through community solar programs, which sometimes involve the installation of solar panels at a public housing location, so families can get power directly from the shared solar array. More commonly, community solar programs let people pay a subscription fee to an off-site solar facility, then get a credit for the solar power generated by that array, which they can apply to their local electric utility bill. As HUD explainers,
Community solar can be a great option for people who are unable to install solar panels on their roofs because they don’t own their homes, have insufficient solar resources or roof conditions to support a rooftop PV system due to shading, roof size, or other factors, or for financial/other reasons.
Forty-one states have community solar installations so far, with different arrangements, so the HUD initiative announced yesterday will help managers of public housing programs get residents in their communities connected to the local programs. On average, says HUD,qualifying families save about 10 percent on their electric bills, although in some community solar plans, like Washington DC's "Solar for All" program, the savings can be as much as 50 percent annually compared to traditional utility companies. Must be all that DC current, you know.
[Editrix's note: Dok is fired again.]
Also too, in Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington DC , the administration will be doing a pilot project that makes community solar available not only to folks in subsidized housing but also to households that qualify for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which in the dirty old days — fine, and now, too — subsidized utility bills and purchases of home heating oil. For those locations, participating families are expected to save a billion dollars in the coming year on electric bills. ( Next climate bill we do, let's subsidize replacing dirty old furnaces with clean, efficient heat pumps.)
in another program, the administration is releasing $10 million in funding from the Infrastructure Law to increase the workforce for solar installation, to make sure that people from under-served and underrepresented groups can get in on the expanding job market in solar. The funding will also include incentives to create union jobs in the industry.
This is all good news for moving the transition to clean energy, especially when combined with the renewed Senate push for a climate bill that will do even more to make that transition happen. For instance, one neat part of the bill is an extension and expansion of the federal tax credit for electric vehicles, boosting the subsidy for a new EV to as much as $7,500. Even better, for the first time ever, the bill includes a $4,000 tax credit on the purchase of used electric vehicles. So we could well see folks in public housing using solar power, getting jobs installing solar, and then buying a used Nissan Leaf to drive around in.
Darn right we're daring to feel a little optimistic! We should probably nip that in the bud, huh?
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