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  • Deputy Director Zaidi: Good morning.

  • Hello.

  • My name is Ali Zaidi, I am the Deputy Director

  • for Energy Policy with the Domestic Policy Council,

  • and just absolutely thrilled to welcome

  • all of you here today.

  • I have the -- before I have the pleasure

  • of introducing our first speaker,

  • do a few housekeeping notes.

  • First, I want to say hello to all of the people

  • who are joining us online.

  • This event is live streamed, so everything

  • you say will be heard all around the world,

  • which is awesome.

  • We will also, to engage our friends who are tuning

  • in online, be taking questions for panelists --

  • others throughout the day.

  • And the hashtags that you should be using

  • are either #WHchamps, or #ActOnClimate.

  • And then a last note of housekeeping,

  • which is perhaps the most important,

  • the restrooms are out these doors and to the left.

  • So out that door and -- well,

  • right that way or left that way.

  • So with that, I want to introduce

  • our first speaker, who is a counselor

  • to the President and really doesn't need much

  • of an introduction probably to many of you, who have worked

  • with him along the years.

  • John Podesta has been a tremendous leader

  • on both energy and climate issues from his time as chief

  • of staff to then president Clinton, as the founder

  • and head of the Center for American Progress,

  • and now as the guy who tells us that we've got

  • to do more every single day.

  • We are delighted to have him kick off today

  • and this series of fantastic speakers, panelists,

  • and champions that will be speaking today

  • and sharing their insights.

  • (applause)

  • John Podesta: Thank you, and good morning.

  • Welcome to the White House.

  • Thank you all for joining

  • us at the White House Solar Summit.

  • We're here today to recognize the

  • extraordinary leadership of 10 solar Champions

  • of Change, who were chosen out of nearly 200

  • nominations from around the country,

  • and to announce a set of new federal tools

  • and resources that will help leaders like the people

  • who will be recognized today bring solar energy

  • and solar jobs to their communities.

  • Throughout human history we've harnessed,

  • of course, the energy of the sun in ways large

  • and small, from lighting fires to powering

  • the international space station.

  • Today, the real and growing threat

  • of climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions

  • has made more urgent the need to capture

  • the sun's energy and to use that energy

  • to power our economy.

  • The electricity sector is the single

  • largest source of U.S. greenhouse

  • gas emissions, making up about

  • a third of total carbon dioxide emissions in 2012.

  • In 2009, President Obama pledged that

  • the United States would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions

  • by about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

  • And we're on our way.

  • In 2012, we had the lowest emission since 1994.

  • But generating more renewable energy through

  • solar power is crucial -- is a crucial part

  • of the equation to keep us on target.

  • It's also what the best available science tells

  • us we must do.

  • Earlier this week, the Intergovernmental Panel on

  • Climate Change released an updated report,

  • the third in a series.

  • We need to drastically curb greenhouse gas

  • emissions beginning today, the IPC tells us, if we

  • have any hope of keeping average global

  • temperatures from spiraling out of control.

  • That means we need to double down, to triple

  • down on our global commitment to develop

  • clean energy resources, including solar,

  • as President Obama's climate action plan does,

  • when he pledged last summer that the United States would

  • double renewable electricity

  • generation by 2020.

  • We have a lot to do in a lot of arenas.

  • We need to make our homes and our businesses,

  • our appliances and our transportation

  • more energy efficient.

  • We need to look after the health of our oceans,

  • which absorb fully one third of the carbon

  • dioxide we emit, and are becoming dangerously

  • acidic as a result, and we urgently need to help

  • finance clean energy solutions in developing

  • countries, where leaders are rightly seeking

  • to boost economic growth and human development

  • by expanding access to electricity.

  • But investing in solar power makes sense

  • for our environment, it makes sense for our economy,

  • and it makes sense for our national security.

  • By almost any measure, the solar energy industry

  • has been amongst the fastest growing industries

  • in the United States over the last five years.

  • Last year, solar energy was the second largest

  • source of new electricity added to the grid,

  • only after natural gas.

  • Every four minutes, another American home

  • or business went solar.

  • Since President Obama took office, the United States

  • has deployed more than 12 gigawatts of solar power,

  • enough to power 1.4 million homes.

  • And that means good jobs for American workers,

  • jobs that can't be shipped overseas.

  • Today, estimates put employment in the solar

  • sector and nearly 150,000, and the power generated

  • through those solar installations

  • is more affordable than ever before.

  • Since early 2010, the average cost of solar

  • powers -- panels has dropped more

  • than 60 percent.

  • That means that more Americans can benefit

  • from installing solar panels in their

  • homes and businesses.

  • And the federal government has done its part

  • to lead by example.

  • Five years ago, there was not one renewable

  • energy project on the hundreds of millions

  • of acres of public lands in this country.

  • Today the Department of Interior is on track

  • to issue permits for enough renewable energy

  • generation on public lands to power more

  • than 6 million homes.

  • And the Department of Defense,

  • which is the single largest consumer of energy

  • in the country, has committed to deploying three gigawatts

  • of renewable energy on military

  • installations by 2025.

  • That's real progress, but we know it's not enough.

  • That's why we're here today.

  • Agencies from across the federal government

  • have worked together to come up with new funding

  • opportunities, new tools, and new resources

  • to help families, businesses, and communities access clean,

  • renewable, affordable solar power.

  • The Sun Shot program at the Department of Energy

  • -- and you'll hear from Secretary Moniz

  • in a minute -- is announcing a $15 million

  • solar market pathways funding opportunity to help state,

  • local, and tribal leaders develop multi-year solar

  • deployment plans for their communities.

  • Those plans could include creating community

  • solar programs, or using local financing mechanisms,

  • like Pace, commercial property assessed clean energy;

  • if you don't care for acronyms,

  • to deploy solar energy.

  • One of our champions for change, Jessica Bailey,

  • sitting in the front row, knows a little something

  • about just how much a difference financing

  • tools like Pace can make.

  • Jessica comes to us from Connecticut's Green Bank,

  • where she's worked since 2012.

  • She designed a state-wide program that helped

  • property owners get financing

  • for clean energy improvements.

  • In its first year, her program brought more

  • than $20 million in financing to Connecticut

  • to support over three megawatts of energy, and millions

  • of energy efficiency savings.

  • All of our states should be taking advantage

  • of Pace and innovative clean energy financing

  • tools as Jessica has pioneered in Connecticut.

  • And today the Environmental Protection

  • Agency is announcing that the Green Power

  • partnership is going to aim to double

  • the use of on-site renewable energy, including solar power

  • by the end of the decade.

  • Since 2001, the Green Power Partnership

  • has worked with schools, with businesses, and with

  • state, local, and federal agencies

  • to expand clean energy.

  • And the Department of Energy is announcing that

  • they will be releasing two new guides in the coming

  • months to help state and local business

  • leaders finance and deploy more clean energy.

  • By highlighting existing federal resources,

  • providing model contracts, and publishing case

  • studies, the Commercial Solar Deployment Playbook,

  • and the Updated Guide to Federal Financing

  • for Clean Energy will help our solar power boom

  • to keep going and keep strong.

  • And those measures will help our Champions

  • of Change go back into their communities and build on

  • their already considerable accomplishments to deploy

  • more green energy, to help more low income families

  • save money on their electric bills,

  • to create more jobs, to inspire others

  • to follow their lead.

  • Elyse Cherry from Boston Community Capital

  • has helped secure financing for over 17,000 solar

  • panels for affordable housing

  • in community facilities.

  • Henry Red Cloud has started one of the United

  • States' first 100-percent Native American owned

  • and operated renewable energy companies,

  • employing tribal members to manufacture and install

  • solar air heating systems on reservations

  • across the Great Plains.

  • Tim Sears cofounded a company that has installed

  • more than 4,000 solar projects and provided

  • more than 15,000 people with training

  • and job experience.

  • All of our champions of change have worked each

  • day to demonstrate what we all know to be true:

  • solar power is a smart investment, it's good for

  • our climate, it's good for our economy,

  • and it's good for our communities.

  • And deployed solar power can even make our

  • communities more resilient in the face

  • of extreme weather.

  • The science of climate change tells us that,

  • while it's impossible to attribute any one storm

  • to climate change, rising average global

  • temperatures will make our weather more extreme

  • over all; droughts will be longer lasting and more

  • severe, some places will see more torrential

  • downpours, and more floods; the seas,

  • of course, will rise, storm surge will be more

  • of a problem.

  • And since 2003, weather related

  • blackouts have doubled.

  • Severe weather is the leading cause

  • of power outages in the United States.

  • When the power grid is damaged or down,

  • it's more than a temporary inconvenience.

  • Extended power outages are a danger to public health,

  • they're a drain on local economies.

  • Homes and businesses with their own source

  • of power are more resilient to the impacts

  • of extreme weather.

  • So that's why, even as we gather to recognize

  • the achievement of our champions of change,

  • I want to challenge all the people in the audience

  • today and all the people watching to do more.

  • We need leaders like you to step up

  • in the coming weeks and months to make commitments

  • to deploy solar power in your communities.

  • We need you to partner with state

  • and local tribal leaders.

  • We need you to work with local businesses.

  • We need you to reach out to community development

  • financial institutions, and federal agencies,

  • and investment firms to raise financing

  • to bring solar power to low income neighborhoods.

  • If you do, we can curb the dangerous greenhouse

  • gas emissions that are damaging our climate;

  • we can make our communities more resilient