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" take advantage of recent efficiency and durability improvements in solar energy technologies"

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The Million Solar Roofs Initiative is an ambitious plan. But bringing solar energy to a million public and private U.S. rooftops—and the environmental and economic benefits that come with it—is worthy of everyone's attention.
This large-scale U.S. deployment of solar energy technologies will reach schools, libraries, private homes, and large and small businesses. It will take advantage of recent efficiency and durability improvements in solar energy technologies. And it will trim the costs of these technologies through the economies of scale of substantially increased production to meet increased demand.

Key features of the initiative involve:

  • Developing a pool of existing federal lending and financing options
    Soliciting voluntary participation by state and local governments and groups
  • Accelerating the use of solar energy systems on federal buildings
    Leveraging other financial support and incentives, both current and proposed.

The Million Solar Roofs Initiative will increase momentum in the U.S. for more widespread use of solar power. Increasing the demand for solar energy systems, photovoltaic, solar hot water, and solar space heating systems will lower the cost of these technologies, making them accessible to more people. And this will put the American solar energy industry in a stronger position in the expanding international renewable-energy market. Slowing greenhouse gas emissions. Clean energy from the sun replaces power sources that pollute the environment. In 2010, Million Solar Roofs will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by an amount equal to what is now produced by 850,000 automobiles. While solar energy is a long-term investment to slow greenhouse gases, the initiative is essential to drive the economies of scale of manufacturing so that significant pollution prevention can occur. Expanding our energy options. In 2010, Million Solar Roofs will produce the same electricity generating capacity as 3-5 coal-fired plants. Solar energy expands our energy options and makes us less dependent on foreign supplies of oil. Dozens of electric utilities, including the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Detroit Edison, and Colorado Public Service Company, are selling electricity produced by solar energy. Others are promoting solar water heating systems as an effective means of saving electricity for water heating.

Creating high-technology jobs.
By 2010, approximately 70,000 new jobs will be created as a result of new demand for photovoltaic, solar water-heating, and solar space heating technologies. In 1997, five new photovoltaic production plants opened in the United States, and six more are planned for 1998.

Building on existing momentum.
Million Solar Roofs supports companies and consumers who have already made the decision to invest in solar energy. For example, 68 utilities, serving 40% of U.S. electricity consumers, have formed a consortium to buy $500 million worth of photovoltaic panels by 2003. Under the USH20 framework, utilities are also working together to expand solar water heating programs.

Keeping U.S. companies competitive.
Million Solar Roofs will help bring the cost of solar energy technologies down. This will enable U.S. companies to lead the effort to supply clean energy to the two billion people worldwide who currently have no access to electricity.

Relying on market forces and consumer choice. 
Million Solar Roofs will build on state and local action to remove market barriers and generate grassroots demand for solar technologies. Eighteen states have passed laws to promote the on-site use of solar (net metering) technologies, and other states are providing solar incentives as they deregulate electric markets.

Marshalling existing federal resources.
Million Solar Roofs will drive action by aggressively encouraging the federal government (the single largest energy user in the world, spending $3 billion per year on electricity alone) to purchase cost-effective solar; using existing federal lending and grant programs to accelerate non-federal purchases of solar energy systems; and coordinating federal activities to bring the cost of solar energy down.

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