Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Solar panel array at the George Washington Carver Center in Belstville, Md. on Monday, Apr. 13, 2015. (Photo: USDA/Tom Witham/flickr/cc)

In 'Win-Win for People and Climate,' Obama Announces Solar-Boosting Initiative

'Expanding clean energy access for low- and moderate-income families is the fair thing to do and it makes smart economic sense.'

Andrea Germanos

The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a series of measures aimed at boosting access to solar energy—a move one environmental group hailed as "a win-win for people and for our climate."

It's called the Clean Energy Savings for All Americans Initiative, and, according to Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists, it "sets some exciting goals"—like bringing 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar to low- and moderate- income families by 2020—and marks "a crucial step forward in helping to ensure that the benefits of the clean energy transition accrue to all."

Among the initiative's noteworthy components, writes Philip Henderson, financial policy expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, are that

  • Thousands of homeowners who purchase or refinance their houses with mortgages supported by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs will be able to use a new kind of home improvement loan—"PACE" financing—which is designed to provide the funds needed to make efficiency repairs, improvements, or add solar panels. [...]
  • Dozens of communities will receive assistance to implement Community Solar initiatives—an important way for families—including renters—to participate in a solar electricity facility without investing in panels installed on their own property.​​​​​​​​​​ [...]
  • States will have new flexibility to use funds from LIHEAP (the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) to help low-income customers repair their homes and apartments to prevent high utility bills, instead of using the funds to simply pay a portion of the families' utility bills.

Among the "big takeaways," according to Cleetus, are that "[r]amping up energy efficiency and solar power can help households save money, even as we cut carbon emissions and reap public health benefits. Expanding clean energy access for low- and moderate-income families is the fair thing to do and it makes smart economic sense."

"What's more," she continued, "done right, the clean energy transition can bring jobs and other economic opportunities to historically disadvantaged communities."

Applauding the initiative, Jill Tauber, managing attorney for clean energy at Earthjustice, said, "Removing barriers to installing solar panels, increasing access to community solar and other policies that reduce energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions is a win-win for people and for our climate." 

President Obama, however, is still under pressure from environmental and community groups who say his climate legacy will only be secured by ending all fossil fuel leases on federal lands.

Underscoring the need for urgent climate action, new data released this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association showed that June 2016 was 1.62° F above the 20th century average, and was the 14th consecutive month to break records. Data from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies this week also showed that January to June 2016 was the planet's warmest half-year on record.

Meanwhile, a potentially deadly so-called "heat dome" is set to grip most of the nation later this week.

Justin Worland writes at TIME, "The coming warm spell is just a taste of future summers when heat waves will be stronger and more frequent."

Climate change "is going to make heat waves more common and stronger," Worland quotes Flavio Lehner, a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, as saying. "It's going to be slow in terms of the human lifespan, but you are going to have heat waves ratcheting up more rapidly."

And that speaks to one of the benefits of the new initiative, Cleetus added—"investing in clean energy can also be a way to build resilience to climate impacts."

"People in homes that are better built and better weatherized, that use less energy, and draw power from distributed energy resources like rooftop or community solar are also better protected from the impacts of extreme weather," she wrote.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


Right-Wing Justices Should Be Impeached for Lying Under Oath, Says Ocasio-Cortez

"We have a responsibility to protect our democracy," said the New York Democrat. "That includes holding those in power who violate the law accountable."

Kenny Stancil ·

'Infuriating': Biden Rebuked for Continued Opposition to Supreme Court Expansion

"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Mehdi Hasan asked. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"

Kenny Stancil ·

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·

'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo