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Obama orders boost to clean energy programs

Obama orders boost to clean energy programs
© Department of Defense

The Obama administration announced a slate of executive actions on Monday to encourage investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, including more than $1 billion in new loan guarantees.  

The White House is pitching the orders as steps to help states meet their carbon emissions goals under Obama's Clean Power Plan, the new climate rule for power plants. They're also meant to bolster several other clean energy goals set by Obama, including increasing the share of renewable energy in electricity generation. 

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They come the same day Obama heads to Nevada to speak at a clean energy summit organized by Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTrumpists' assaults on Republicans who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid will help Democrats The Jan. 6 case for ending the Senate filibuster Manchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate MORE (D-Nev.). 

Among the orders is a $1 billion boost to a loan guarantee program for distributed energy projects, or small-scale energy generation such as rooftop solar panels. That comes on top of more than $10 billion in loan guarantees the Department of Energy already commits to green energy. 

Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizLobbying from the center Granholm: Biden wants to take advantage of 'economic opportunity' in fighting climate change Biden to select Granholm as Energy secretary: reports MORE said there is a "major opportunity" to expand the share of solar energy around the United States. 

"At the Department of Energy, we are providing a significant focus on the issue of distributed energy tech and the infrastructures, the grid infrastructures, that we need to integrate these fully into the system,” Moniz said on a call with reporters Monday. 

The actions include several steps to help solar power, including $24 million in financing for 11 research projects aiming to double the energy production from solar panels. 

The White House also announced the approval of a transmission line for a 485-megawatt solar facility in California and the creation of a Department of Defense program to install solar power at housing facilities on 40 military bases.

The Obama administration is also pushing energy efficiency improvements for low-income communities, including overhauling a Federal Housing Administration program that issues loans for home energy improvements.

It’s also forming a task force to focus on energy efficiency for low-income households and spending $220 million on energy programs for veterans and low-income customers. 

“The equation here is very simple,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro said on Monday. “If we reduce energy usage in housing, we can reduce it in communities, and all around the nation.”

A White House announcement said the actions are meant to “build on state leadership, all across America, to continue to expand opportunities to install energy saving technologies in households today, particularly those that need it most, while driving the development of innovative, low-cost clean energy technologies for tomorrow.”

—This post was updated at 11:50 a.m.