Obama makes new solar energy push

The Obama administration will ask businesses to expand their use of solar panels, and is set to announce a $15 million program to help state and local governments build solar energy infrastructure.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and White House counselor John D. Podesta will issue the presidential challenge at the White House's "Solar Summit" on Thursday, according to the Washington Post.

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The administration will also announce that the Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory will lend staff and technical expertise to other parts of the administration as part of the push to have 100 megawatts of renewable energy installed at federally subsidized housing by the end of the decade.

The Pentagon is hoping to install infrastructure providing 3 gigawatts of renewable energy on military instillations by 2025, administration officials told the paper.

The administration is trying to boost the share of the nation's energy portfolio provided by renewable sources. Currently, just 1 percent of U.S. energy comes from solar installations, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The White House is characterizing the president's call on businesses to invest in renewable energy as another example of Obama's "pen and phone" initiatives.

The president has taken these kinds of unilateral steps in other areas in recent months. For example, he has secured commitments from universities and nonprofits to fund programs improving college access for low-income students and solicited technology and communications donations for libraries and schools.

The president also secured $200 million in donations from nine foundations for a program designed to support young men of color.