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How Ida Went Solar (And Why It Means You Can, Too)

Solar panels are now within reach for millions of people in this country thanks to steps that President Obama has taken in the past eight years.

In 1990, the electric company shut off power to Ida Rhyne’s home in Baltimore for the first time. They did it because she simply couldn’t afford to pay her electrical bill.

After working as a bus driver for over a decade, she suffered an accident that put her on a partial disability pension — and left her without a regular income. She sometimes had to make the tough choice between feeding her family, making her mortgage, and paying the electric company.

You can probably guess which option she picked. And this meant that she’s frequently lived in a house without power.

That’s all changed now.

Last week, a team of people installed a set of brand new solar panels on her roof — panels that cost next-to-nothing upfront. Panels that she will be able to pay off, over time, through savings on her monthly energy bill.

Now, she says she wakes up every day and “just can’t stop smiling.” She feels like her home looks good. A major, monthly expense no longer keeps her up at night. That frees her up to think about her kids and their futures — about the future of her whole community.

Because while she says she is proud to be the first person on her block to have solar panels installed, she knows that she won’t be the last. Solar panels are now within reach for millions of people in this country thanks to steps that President Obama has taken in the past eight years. That’s very exciting.

Ida Rhyne and her granddaughter, Diamond Davis
Ida Rhyne and her granddaughter, Diamond Davis (Photo: Kelly Jo Smart)

Get the Facts: 

President Obama is committed to providing every American family with the option to transition to solar energy and make home improvements to cut their energy bills. That is why, today, the Obama Administration is announcing a new cross-government partnership — Clean Energy Access For All — to increase solar energy and promote energy efficiency for working families and veterans across the United States.

In particular, this partnership will work to ensure every household can choose to go solar, either through installing panels directly on their roofs for homeowners or by setting up community solar systems for the 50 percent of homes and business that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar systems.

As a part of this announcement, here are just a few ways President Obama is leading the way to support communities across the country in deploying clean energy options while creating jobs and reducing carbon pollution:

  1. Unlocking alternative sources of capital for low- and moderate-income Americans and veterans to scale up solar, promote energy and water efficiency retrofits, and create more resilient homes, leading to reduced energy bills, more empowered consumers, and cleaner communities.
  2. Providing new financing opportunities for veterans to participate in the clean energy economy and save on their energy bills.
  3. Setting a new goal to bring 1 gigawatt of solar to low- and moderate-income families by 2020.
  4. Developing a National Community Solar Challenge that will reward teams in dozens of communities up to $100,000, to develop innovative models to increase solar development and cut communities energy bills, in particular in low income communities
  5. Promoting clean energy in rural America with funding from USDA that will help rural small businesses and agricultural producers make energy efficiency improvements and/or install renewable energy systems, reducing energy costs in their operations.

Learn more here.