Obama Renews Solar Initiative for Military Bases at Climate Summit

August 25, 2015 Updated: August 26, 2015

President Barack Obama headed to Las Vegas, Nevada for a climate speech Monday night, his first day back from vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard.

Speaking at Senator Harry Reid’s National Clean Energy Summit, the president announced new green energy initiatives including his re-commitment to provide solar power to housing on over 40 military bases across the United States with the help of more companies.

The military initiative, which stems from an executive action in March to reduce the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent over the next decade from 2008 levels, has made significant progress.

Over 60,000 Department of Defense (DOD) privatized housing units have been installed with 72 megawatts of solar energy producing infrastructure so far, according to a June Whitehouse.gov press release highlighting green energy milestones.

Obama expects the initiative to save military families money on energy bills and make military communities more energy secure. Going forward the DOD is partnering with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates federal environmental efforts, to encourage owners of military housing units to set goals for doubling solar energy installations through the end of 2016.

Keeping the Armed Forces Green

President Obama previously made a commitment to help America’s armed forces double their use of renewable energy. In 2012, the DOD announced a goal to deploy three gigawatts of renewable power and meet 25 percent of its energy needs with renewable energy by 2025, according to the Whitehouse. By early 2014, a new 16.4-megawatt solar plant, the largest of its kind, was built on the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, affirming Obama’s commitment to climate change.

The Air Force has been considered the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, spending more than $9 billion annually on fuel and electricity. 

Not to be outdone, in April 2014, the U.S. Army announced plans to start development on a historic solar array at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, expected to produce 25 percent of the annual installation electricity requirement of Fort Huachuca, Ariz. 

The project, finished in February 2015 and larger than the Air Force solar plant, is a 68-acre, 17.2 megawatt photovoltaic array owned and operated by Tucson Electric Power.

As of 2013, more than 130 megawatts of solar energy systems powered Navy, Army and Air Force bases, including facilities and homes, in at least 31 states and the District of Columbia equaling clean energy power to 22,000 American homes, according to Solar Energy Industries Association.

In addition to the military initiative, the president announced other goals to make is easier for Americans to invest in clean energy technologies, such as opening up Property-Assessed Clean Energy, a program that provides up to 100 percent financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades, which is repaid as a property tax assessment for up to 20 years.

He also introduced a new Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Energy (DOE) program that will provide homeowners with a simple way to measure and improve energy efficiency in their homes by increasing their borrowing power.