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What Does the Clean Power Plan Mean for Solar?

President Obama began the unveiling of “the biggest, most important steps we’ve ever taken to combat climate change” on Sunday, Aug. 2nd with this video.

After being created, criticized, and tweaked for the past two years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally released the Clean Power Plan on Monday, Aug. 3rd.

The main focus of the plan is to cut carbon emissions, particularly from coal-burning plants. It aims to cut greenhouse emissions from power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels, and they only have 15 years to do it.

The New York Times reported that the plan will “transform America’s electricity industry.” So what does it mean for solar energy?

One piece of the plan is forcing power plants to further invest in renewable energy sources. By requiring that 28 percent of generating capacity come from renewables, solar in the U.S. is sure to keep growing. Each state will be given a goal of reduced carbon production from power plants. They can take on the challenge however they please, and final plans are due in 2018.

The New York Times reported that “the final rules are explicitly meant to encourage the use of interstate cap-and-trade systems, in which states place a cap on carbon pollution and then create a market for buying permits or credits to pollute. The idea is that forcing companies to pay to pollute will drive them to cleaner sources of energy.”

While the plan is a huge step in the fight against climate change, there is still a long road of controversy and legal quarrels ahead.

“Opponents blasted last year’s proposed regulation as a possibly illegal federal overreach that would impose costly burdens on utility companies and their customers,” reported the Washington Post.

But hopefully President Obama will use his dwindling time left in office to push these regulations through the “Republican-controlled Congress” and ensure that fighting climate change is part of his legacy forever.

To learn more about what the Clean Power Plan means for the U.S., here’s a video from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Written by Sarah Bergen. Sarah is a writer and editor from New Jersey. She enjoys writing about environmental issues, sustainability, and health. She can be reached at [email protected].

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