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White House to unveil solar panel program for poor areas

By Amy R. Connolly
White House to unveil solar panel program for poor areas
The Obama administration will unveil a project Tuesday that will help low- and middle-income Americans obtain solar panels for energy production. Photo by Craig Russell/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, July 7 (UPI) -- The Obama administration will unveil a project Tuesday that will help low- and middle-income Americans obtain solar panels for energy production, taking another step in the president's goal of tackling climate change.

The administration said by 2020 it plans to triple the capacity of solar and other renewable energy systems in federally subsidized housing and make it easier for homeowners to borrow money for solar panels. The White House said the plan will "help continue to scale up solar for all Americans, including those who are renters, lack the startup capital to invest in solar, or do not have adequate information on how to transition to solar energy."

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"We need to expand opportunities for more families to reap the benefits of using cleaner sources of energy that can also help households save money on their utility bills," Brian Deese, Obama's top energy adviser, said Monday.

Deese and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., will travel to Baltimore Tuesday to roll out the program with a key component from the Energy Department to help build neighborhood solar farms that don't require panels to be installed on the roofs of homes and businesses. It's meant to make solar an option to renters who can't install solar panels on rooftops.

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Deese said the Energy Department "will provide low-cost financing, particularly to households, and improve our government lending programs to make them easier to utilize so that it's easier for individuals to take advantage of this benefit."

Deese said the program includes commitments totaling about $520 million from investors, charities, states and cities to pay for solar and energy-efficient projects for lower-income communities. The program will not only help the planet but also help local residents, Cummings said.

"The difference in a monthly bill of $10 or $15 means a lot to the people who live on my block," Cummings said.

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