(Corrects day of week in paragraph 10)
By Steve Holland
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. May 9 President Barack
Obama announced steps on Friday to increase the use of solar
panels, boost energy efficiency in federal buildings and train
more people to work in the renewable energy field.
"It's the right thing to do for the planet," Obama said,
standing in the outdoor lighting display section of a WalMart
store that features roof-top solar panels and a charging station
for electric vehicles, among other energy-saving retrofits.
The president used the stop to show how major corporations
have committed to increasing the generation of solar power at
their facilities. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Apple Inc
, Yahoo Inc, Google Inc and Ikea were
among the companies that have made such commitments.
Obama made the announcement at the end of a three-day
California swing mostly devoted to raising hundreds of thousands
of dollars for the Democratic Party.
The president and administration officials have spent much
of this week highlighting their concern about climate change and
the need to take steps to address the change. Friday's
announcement fit into that policy agenda.
"The sooner we work together to adapt the economy to this
reality of climate change, the more likely it is that we do
right by our kids, and leave a more stable world," Obama said at
what the chief executive officer of Walmart U.S., Bill Simon,
said was the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to one of
Obama said an additional $2 billion would be devoted to
energy efficiency upgrades to federal government buildings over
the next three years.
Several financial institutions, including Citigroup Inc
and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, were announcing new
plans for "large scale investment and innovative programs" to
develop solar and renewable energy installations, the White
Obama's executive actions would support efforts at community
colleges so that 50,000 workers would join the solar industry by
2020, it said.
"Investing in solar and efficiency makes sense to reduce our
carbon emissions, but also for our pocketbooks and for our
economy," Dan Utech, an energy adviser to Obama, said during a
conference call on Thursday to preview Obama's announcement.
He said the U.S. solar energy industry had expanded
dramatically under Obama's watch, with installations increasing
to an amount enough to power more than 2 million homes.
An Obama spokesman also announced the completion of a
project to install solar panels at the White House itself. The
panels were American-made and part of an energy retrofit that
would improve the building's energy efficiency.
"The project, which helps demonstrate that historic
buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency
upgrades, is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over
the next eight years," spokesman Matt Lehrich said.
Solar panels at the White House are not entirely new. Obama
promised in 2010 to put solar panels on the White House roof.
Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter had put up solar panels
in 1979, during an oil crisis, but Ronald Reagan, his Republican
successor, removed them during repairs.
(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington; Editing by