Finally, Installation of Solar Panels at the White House is a Reality

Solar Panels on White House

As of August 2013, solar panels have been installed on the White House

In 2010, President Barack Obama’s then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that a demonstration of a commitment to increasing renewable power would take place in the form of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar hot water being installed on the roof of the White House. Fast forward to now, August of 2013, and it has happened. It took 40 months, but solar panels are now installed on the White House roof. And, incidentally, business owners and homeowners across the U.S. have also installed solar on their rooftops since 2010 to the extent that solar power has quadrupled during Obama’s administration.

Advocates of solar energy, to a large extent, are more frustrated than congratulatory about the new White House solar panels. After all, as many see it, Obama has not provided an example of leadership to Americans by the way the solar project has been delayed. There are also many initiatives he could have implemented as President which would have made much more significant advancements to solar, many argue. And there is no denying that Obama is far more famous for the failure of Solyndra, a bankrupt solar manufacturing company which received a $535 million federal loan guarantee, than he is for an increase in U.S. solar installations.

While they can’t all be attributed to Obama, let’s look at various solar advancements which have taken place during his Presidential term:

  • The capacity for electricity generation with solar technologies is close to four times what it was when President Obama took office.
  • In 2012 alone, solar power capacity in the U.S. was increased by 3.3 gigawatts, which is a stunning amount. New solar power capacity that was added last year was greater than the previous three years combined – and they also marked great solar strides.
  • President George Bush signed an 8 year Investment Tax Credit into law in 2008, but few utilized the tax credit during his tenure due to the global recession that was underway at the time. The Section 1603 Treasury Grant Program (TGP) took the 30% investment tax credit and allowed the credit to be claimed as a grant for renewable energy project developers. In short, developers which did not have tax equity access were able to claim the tax credit at the startup of construction, which benefited the solar industry tremendously. In fact, in solar projects encompassing all 50 states, awards were made to about 44,000 domestic solar projects which leveraged over $7.17 billion in private sector investments as of September 2012.
  • Solar IncentivesIn spite of serious economic downturns in the U.S., the solar industry has grown enormously, due to the TGP, in large part.
  • It is estimated that the TGP has supported approximately 60,000 jobs in recent years.
  • Stimulus funding in the amount of $16 billion went to fund the pre-existing Loan Guarantee Programs of the U.S. Department of Energy. A full 87% of this huge sum of money backed loans mostly to solar and wind power generation projects. Only a small part of the funds funded technology start-ups such as Solyndra.

The story of solar power being installed at the White House has previously been a dismal one. For example, President Carter installed solar panels and President Reagan had them removed. Let’s hope the panels now installed are there to stay and that the current and future administrations will take a stronger lead in advancing a switch to solar power and other renewable energy sources.

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Big Incentives for Minnesota Solar Energy

Photo Courtesy of NASS member - Renewable Energy of Plum Hollow

There are some new incentives to the northeastern Minnesota customers of Minnesota Power. They recently announced an update to their SolarSense program that can pay up to 60% (or $20,000) towards the cost of a solar electric (solar PV) installation. MP is one of the pioneers across the country when it comes to encouraging renewable energy. This program is only available to their 140,000 or so customers but hopefully it’s success will be a model for other power companies to follow.

The qualifying solar PV system installations will receive a rebate based on the solar power that is produced that amounts to two-thousand dollars per kilowatt generated by the new solar electric system. Non-profits can reap up to $4,750 per kilowatt for going Solar Energy in Northeast Minnesota. The program is available to homeowners and businesses that are interested in installing a solar energy system.

In addition participants will also be able to receive the federal tax credit of thirty percent. There is also a “Made in Minnesota” bonus rebate available for those that choose locally manufactured systems. Bottom line – a solar PV installation for a home that might cost $40k could end up costing the buyer as little as eight thousand dollars! This should be a tremendous boost to the energy independence that solar energy can provide.

If you are eligible for this Minnesota solar program, please consider contacting our North American Solar Store (NASS) member located in Duluth, MN for more information on how Solar PV can work for you.
More details about the program are available on the Solar Energy and Renewable Energy page of the Minnesota Power website.

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