Fossil-Fuel Industry Can’t Stop Renewable Energy, Obama Says

(Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama pledged to provide
incentives to support investments in renewable energy, saying
the industry will thrive despite opposition by Republicans and
fossil-fuel suppliers.

The White House on Monday announced a $1 billion increase
in loan guarantees for renewable energy projects, $24 million in
new grants for solar research and measures to reduce costs for
homeowners to install solar panels. The government also said it
would approve a transmission line for a large solar plant in
Riverside County, California.

“We’re going to make it even easier for individual
homeowners to put solar panels on their roof with no upfront
cost,” Obama said Monday night at the National Clean Energy
Summit in Las Vegas. “A lot of Americans are going solar and
becoming more energy-efficient not because of tree huggers —
although trees are important, just want you to know — but
because they’re cost-cutters.”

After legislative efforts to limit U.S. carbon emissions
failed in Obama’s first term, he has made climate change a focus
of his remaining time in office. New regulations he’s issued
would limit power-plant emissions of greenhouse gases linked to
global warming.

The president has set a target of reducing U.S. carbon
emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels in 2025.

“He has not done as much as he would’ve liked
legislatively, but he’s done it administratively,” Senator
Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat who sponsored the summit, told the
crowd in Las Vegas before Obama’s remarks.

Distributed Energy

Among measures announced Monday, the Energy Department said
it will add as much as $1 billion in loan authority to help
promote innovation in so-called distributed energy projects such
as rooftop solar panels, energy storage and smart-grid
technology.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said federal support remains
critical as the the clean-energy industry seeks to establish a
foothold.

“The playing field is not always level and that’s where
investors and developers can have risks,” he told reporters on
the conference call. “That’s where things like our loan program
come in.”

Republicans have sought to trim federal funding for clean
energy programs, accusing the Obama administration of wasting
money. Moniz said the solar-energy industry would continue to
expand, albeit at a slower pace, if Congress failed to extend
tax credits for solar development beyond next year.

Obama said opponents of renewable energy, led by oil, coal
and other fossil-fuel producers, feel threatened by the emerging
industry and seek to make it more costly by “a massive lobbying
effort” in Washington.

“That’s not progress, that’s not innovation,” he said.

Blythe Project

Among other initiatives, the Interior Department said it
would approve a transmission line across federal lands for the
Blythe Mesa Solar Power Project in California. The 485-megawatt
photovoltaic plant will produce enough energy to power more than
145,000 homes in California, according to the White House.

The project will be located adjacent to federal land that
has been designated as a special zone for solar energy
production, Ray Brady, manager of the Bureau of Land
Management’s National Renewable Energy Coordination Office, said
in a telephone interview last week.

The Housing and Urban Development Department will clarify
loan guidelines for Federal Housing Administration-insured
mortgages, available to loan-income families, to make it easier
to transfer loans that finance energy improvements or solar
panels when selling a home. The new loan rules also will permit
homebuyers to incur more debt on houses with above-average
energy efficiency, according to the fact sheet.

After speaking at the summit, Obama attended a fundraiser
for the Nevada Democratic Party.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Mike Dorning in Washington at
mdorning@bloomberg.net;
Toluse Olorunnipa in Washington at
tolorunnipa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Joe Sobczyk at
jsobczyk@bloomberg.net
Alex Wayne, Justin Blum

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