LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday expanded his push for greater renewable energy adoption, announcing fresh financial incentives for solar power development and use.
The steps include an additional $1 billion in loan guarantees for new research projects and near-term savings for homeowners using renewable energy.
Speaking at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Obama argued fossil fuel proponents who say renewable energy is too expensive are being proven wrong as power sources like solar and wind become cheaper.
“For decades we’ve been told that it doesn’t make sense to switch to renewable energy. Today that’s no longer true,” Obama said, laying out the cost savings realized by companies and states using more renewable energy.
The moves are part of Obama’s broader plan for ameliorating the effects of climate change, which he will illustrate throughout the next week in trips to New Orleans and Alaska.
They come after Obama’s announcement earlier this month to limit carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
That plan mandated a shift to renewable energy from coal-fired electricity to fight climate change, which Obama has called the greatest threat facing the world. Critics have said moving away from carbon-producing energies will drive up costs.
Under the new rules, homeowners who adopt renewable energy will be able to do so with no cost upfront and pay back the cost of installation over time through property taxes.
Monday’s announcement also called on Department of Energy to make an additional $1 billion out of an existing $10 billion available in loan guarantees for renewable energy projects
The Department of Interior on Monday approved the Blythe Mesa Solar project in California and its transmission line, expected to bring enough solar energy to power 145,000 homes.
Obama criticized fossil fuel companies lobbying against renewable energy, arguing they claimed to be for the free market “until it’s solar that people are buying and suddenly you’re not for it anymore.”
Congressional Republicans are likely to balk at the White House’s latest effort to promote renewable energy, although the regulations do not require lawmakers’ approval.
Earlier this month Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who represents the coal-producing state of Kentucky, blasted the administration’s plan to cut carbon emissions, saying it would shutter power plants and drive up electricity costs.
Reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by Dan Grebler and Lisa Shumaker