Biden’s Bright Idea? Spending $7 Billion on Solar Energy—Is He Seeing Stars?

Vaclav Volrab /
Vaclav Volrab /

In a recent announcement, President Joe Biden declared a whopping $7 billion in grants for residential solar projects, benefiting nearly a million households in low-income and disadvantaged communities. This initiative, dubbed the Solar for All program, aims to make a dent in energy costs and job creation by hitting two birds with one stone.

President Biden’s $7 billion grant extravaganza for solar projects sounds like a fairy tale, promising to rescue low-income households and create a wave of jobs. But let’s not overlook the fine print amidst the fanfare. While “nearly a million households” might sound impressive, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the broader energy landscape. And let’s be honest: these grants won’t magically erase the systemic issues facing disadvantaged communities overnight.

Sure, the Solar for All program is a catchy name, but let’s hope it ends up being something other than just another catchy slogan with little substance. We’ve heard promises before, and they often get lost in the bureaucratic labyrinth or overshadowed by the next big political spectacle. So forgive the skepticism if some of us wait to see tangible results before we start singing praises. After all, in the realm of politics, grand gestures can sometimes be more smoke than fire.

During his Earth Day address in Triangle, Virginia, President Biden emphasized the significance of this move. He touted how families stand to save over $400 annually on utility bills while also foreseeing the creation of some 200,000 decent-paying union jobs over the next five years. This is a commendable effort, no doubt. But let’s break it down.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the Inflation Reduction Act, the Solar for All program has picked 60 applicants for these grants. These recipients span 49 states, several tribes, and multistate entities. Senator Bernie Sanders chimed in, highlighting the potential for Americans to slash their electric bills by 70 to 90 percent with solar power, saving a whopping $8.7 billion collectively.

Yet, there’s a catch. To enjoy these savings, families need to make a hefty initial investment, ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 for solar panels. As Sanders rightly pointed out, this is a steep price tag for the average American. But fear not—that’s where the Solar for All Program aims to level the playing field.

But wait, there’s more! President Biden is rolling out the American Climate Corps, a scheme mirroring President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps. This initiative aims to recruit over 20,000 young Americans to tackle climate-related issues head-on. And guess what? There are 2,000 job openings up for grabs right now.

In addition to these endeavors, Biden’s administration is making waves in conservation efforts, pledging to safeguard over 13 million acres in the western Arctic. John Podesta, senior adviser for international climate policy, hailed these actions as historic, preserving lands for future generations.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. Despite overwhelming evidence, there are still naysayers, especially among my MAGA Republican friends. President Biden minced no words in his Earth Day proclamation, labeling climate change the existential crisis of our time. He’s spot on. This isn’t a red or blue issue; it’s a global one.

Biden’s administration wasted no time rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, signaling America’s commitment to tackling climate change on the world stage. And it’s about time. Climate change doesn’t discriminate based on political affiliation; it affects everyone.

Reflecting on Earth Day’s origins, we can’t forget the bipartisan efforts that birthed the EPA under Republican President Nixon. In 1970, Earth Day was a bipartisan affair, championed by Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat, but supported by leaders across the aisle. It’s high time we return to that spirit of collaboration for the sake of our planet’s future.

President Biden’s actions, though laudable, are just the beginning. We need a united front, transcending party lines, to tackle the climate crisis head-on. Let’s make every day Earth Day and ensure a sustainable future for generations.