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Ask Bill Clinton: How Can We Encourage Homeowners to Adopt Solar Energy?

Ask Bill Clinton: How Can We Encourage Homeowners to Adopt Solar Energy?

Photograph by Charlie Engman for Bloomberg Businessweek

 Illustration by Jaci KesslerDavid Crane, CEO and president, NRG Energy (NRG)
“With the cost of solar panels now just 10 percent of what they were five years ago, how do we streamline the local approval process and reduce the friction costs so that U.S. homeowners can realize the solar value of their property while paying less for their electricity?”

We need to develop in every state a network of cooperation in which contractors, utilities, building and home owners, tenants, and government agencies understand the shared benefits of solar energy and work together to accelerate its deployment. Our outdated energy grid’s outages cost the U.S. economy $25 billion or more every year, according to a recent Morgan Stanley study using Department of Energy data. Recent extreme weather events have had devastating effects on our aging infrastructure and make a stronger case than ever to build a more resilient and reliable energy system. Distributed solar energy will help us to build that resilience and reliability, both for the nation and for individual owners of homes and buildings.

Though innovative companies are speeding the deployment of solar panels, especially in states with financial incentives that reduce or eliminate the need to cover out-of-pocket expenses upfront, more needs to be done to push all our states to adopt user-friendly financing for solar panel purchases or leases.

Big differences in the level of financial subsidies from state to state, as well as limited financing options, continue to slow the adoption of the panels. Over the next two years, Clean Power Finance, an online marketplace for software and financial services, will join with researchers to develop a better understanding of how to encourage consumers to adopt solar power and how to make panels more affordable.

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