Vice President Kamala Harris has announced a landmark agreement for what the Biden administration calls the largest community solar effort in U.S. history, enough to power 140,000 homes and create thousands of jobs.
The agreement, which was signed by the Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and 10 major solar developers, aims to provide affordable and clean energy to low-income households across the country.
Community solar projects are shared solar facilities that allow multiple customers to benefit from the electricity generated by a single solar farm, without having to install panels on their own roofs.
The initiative will leverage $1.5 billion in private sector investment and $400 million in federal funding to develop 4 gigawatts of community solar capacity over the next four years.
The initiative will also prioritize hiring workers from disadvantaged communities and providing them with training and certification opportunities.
Vice President Harris said that the initiative is part of the administration’s commitment to address the climate crisis and environmental justice, as well as to create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity.
“This is a historic moment for our nation and our planet,” Harris said at a virtual event on Wednesday. “We are taking a bold step to expand access to clean energy for millions of Americans who have been left behind by the fossil fuel economy.”
Harris added that the initiative will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, which disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities.
“By investing in community solar, we are not only fighting climate change, we are also fighting for environmental justice,” Harris said. “We are ensuring that everyone, regardless of their zip code or income level, can enjoy the benefits of clean energy and breathe cleaner air.”
The vice president was joined by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, and representatives from the solar industry and community organizations.
Granholm said that the initiative will help advance the administration’s goal of achieving 100% clean electricity by 2035 and creating millions of jobs in the clean energy sector.
“This is a win-win-win for our country,” Granholm said. “We are creating jobs, we are saving money, and we are saving the planet.”
Fudge said that the initiative will help lower energy bills for low-income households, which spend a higher share of their income on energy than higher-income households.
“This is a game-changer for families who struggle to pay their energy bills every month,” Fudge said. “By providing them with access to affordable and reliable solar power, we are helping them save money and improve their quality of life.”
The 10 solar developers that signed the agreement are: Arcadia Power, Clearway Energy Group, Community Energy Inc., Cypress Creek Renewables, EDF Renewables North America, Nexamp Inc., NRG Energy Inc., Sol Systems LLC, Sunrun Inc., and SunShare LLC.
They have committed to developing community solar projects in at least 36 states and territories, with a focus on serving low- and moderate-income customers.
The agreement also includes a pledge to adhere to high labor standards and fair wages, as well as to support diversity and inclusion in hiring and contracting.
The vice president said that she hopes that the initiative will inspire more public-private partnerships and innovation in the renewable energy sector.
“This is just the beginning,” Harris said. “We have a lot more work to do to build a clean energy future for all Americans.”