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White House plans rooftop solar panel initiative for inner-city neighborhoods

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Technician checking solar panels on roof (Shutterstock)

The White House said it would move to put more solar panels on rooftops in poor, inner-city neighbourhoods to cut electricity bills and fight climate change.

The plan, to be unveiled on Tuesday in Baltimore, follows dozens of new initiatives rolled out by the White House since the start of the year to signal Barack Obama’s commitment to act on climate change – even in the face of Republican opposition.

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America is in the midst of a rooftop solar boom – with installation up 139,000% in the last decade , because of falling costs.

But only about 1% of the electricity moving along America’s grid comes from solar, and nearly half of all US households are shut out of solar, because they are renters or their properties are too small to install panels, White House officials told a conference call with reporters.

“We think it’s important for everybody to have access to solar energy,” Brian Deese, a senior White House adviser, told reporters.

In the new solar initiative, the White House said it wanted to make rooftop solar panels more affordable and open up new jobs in inner-city neighbourhoods. Officials said they would work with housing authorities and solar companies in 20 states to improve financing packages.

The new initiative – the second move by Obama to expand solar since April – aimed to install 300MW of solar power in subsidised housing by 2020, officials told the call.

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That’s just over half as much energy as generated by the big solar farm in the Mojave desert – one of the first big solar projects backed by Obama, which went into operation earlier this year.

But it represents a tripling of Obama’s initial target to install 100MW of rooftop solar in subsidised housing by 2020 – a goal that has already been reached thanks to falling prices for solar panels.

“The curve is really spiking up because the costs are coming down,” Deese said.

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Obama last April announced plans to train up to 75,000 new solar industry workers.

Tuesday’s initiative is the latest in a growing series of actions intended to demonstrate to the international community that Obama remains focused on climate change, ahead of a critical set of negotiations for a global warming deal in Paris at the end of the year.

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Those efforts are going to take a hit as a Republican-controlled Congress returns to work after the Fourth of July holiday, with hearings in the House and Senate challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to cut carbon pollution from power plants and the Obama administration’s focus on climate change as a security issue.

The move also suggests a pivot for Obama from large-scale solar farms to rooftop solar.

When Obama entered the White House in 2009, there were no large-scale solar farms. Now there are 17, funded by Department of Energy loan guarantees.

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guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015


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LISTEN: Mourners sing ‘Amazing Grace’ outside the Supreme Court to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Heartwarming videos were shared on social media on Friday night showing the spontaneous gathering at the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The large crowd, with many people wearing masks, sang the hymn "Amazing Grace."

Here are some of the videos of the scene:

A moving moments as dozens join in to sing “Amazing Grace” on the steps of the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/NGZyZi4YR4

— Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) September 19, 2020

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2020 Election

Here’s how Mitch McConnell could lose his leverage to replace Ginsburg after November

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According to a report in AZCentral, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to rush through a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could encounter an unexpected roadblock if he tries to hold a confirmation vote after the election.

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After prostitution arrest, Seattle police captain got preferential treatment from fellow officers

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SEATTLE — Late on a Wednesday last November, a middle-aged man in an Audi sport utility vehicle pulled into a lot off Aurora Avenue North and allegedly agreed to pay $40 for sex to a police decoy posing as a prostitute.The undercover cop silently gave a signal, and a team of Seattle police officers watching from nearby swooped in. They soon realized their vice sting had netted one of their own: an out-of-uniform Seattle police captain named Randal Woolery.Police bodycam videos of Woolery’s arrest that night show that after officers handcuffed him and read him his rights, he turned to a supervi... (more…)

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