The Obama administration has announced a slew of initiatives to drive innovation, investment and development of renewable and energy-efficiency projects.
Administration officials say the combination of executive actions and private-sector commitments will accelerate the country’s transition to non-fossil sources of energy and help to spur energy-efficiency renovation projects for thousands of homeowners and multi-family buildings.
In remarks at the National Clean Energy Summit in Nevada on Aug. 24, President Obama said the actions build on an American “revolution” in energy that is transforming the economy and helping to address climate change. “This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. … It’s an issue that should bring everyone together,” he said.
The initiatives include up to $1 billion in loan guarantees through the Dept. of Energy’s Loan Programs Office to support commercial-scale distributed-energy projects, such as rooftop solar and smart-grid technology.
DOE also is awarding $24 million to fund 11 high-performance pilot projects that Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says could help lower the cost and improve the performance of solar-photovoltaic power systems.
At the Dept. of Interior, Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has formally approved the Blythe Mesa solar project in California and its associated transmission infrastructure. The 485-megawatt photovoltaic facility, proposed by California-based Renewable Resources Group, will be built in Riverside County.
“Blythe Mesa is another step forward toward diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio to meet the growing demand for renewable resources,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze in a statement. “With this approval, the BLM is well on its way in realizing the president’s vision of permitting 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public land by the end of this decade.”
The project requires federal approval because a 230-kilovolt generation interconnection transmission line, which allows the facility to connect to an electric grid, crosses five miles of public land that is managed by the BLM.
Several private-sector firms also announced commitments to support renewable or energy-efficiency initiatives. Five firms—Balfour Beatty Communities, Corvias Solutions and Onyx Renewable Partners, Lincoln Military Housing and United Communities—announced that they would work with the Dept. of Defense under a new initiative to install additional solar energy projects at 40 military bases across the country.
On the energy-efficiency side, Energy Optimizers USA and Miller Valentine announced a new partnership to develop and implement energy-efficiency renovation projects in more than 12,000 low-income properties throughout 13 states. The project will include LED lighting, solar hot-water systems, and energy-efficient HVAC systems and insulation.
In a statement, Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, said, “It is clear that the federal government and the private sector recognize that deploying energy-efficiency technologies and practices is the most important and effective means to realizing the goal of doubling U.S. energy productivity by 2030.”
Nate Sandvig, hydropower program manager for MWH Global, says the initiatives are a positive step but notes, “DOE needs to step up and get engaged with addressing how to make renewables more reliable.” He said pumped storage is one solution that could help to address concerns regarding the reliability of the grid.