On Sept. 18, members of the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy celebrated National Clean Energy Week with their boots on the ground, or to put it more accurately, on the roof. After weeks of President Biden urging the rebuilding of the West in the wake of catastrophic wildfires, and while working tirelessly to pass the transformative, bipartisan infrastructure bill, the team’s idea of a break was to visit a community solar project in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8 with local clean energy company New Columbia Solar, where the White House staff put on hard hats and installed solar panels.

“The climate crisis has a powerful way of bringing us together when we see those impacts,” said the Deputy Director of the White House Office on Domestic Climate Policy, Ali Zaidi, speaking of Hurricane Ida and the California wildfires. “And what’s so exciting is to see us come together around the solutions to that crisis. So yes, we have to come together and take on those wildfires and those storms and stand together as communities when we rebuild, but we’ve got to be in the business of coming together and building back better every single day in our communities.”

On Saturday, the team joined the local clean energy company and affordable housing property owners to come together around a clean energy solution and bring a 374-kW solar array to a disadvantaged community in the District.

While the White House Office on Domestic Climate Policy visited the community solar site, they met and learned from workers who participated in local training pathway programs, including some who credit solar energy for providing them with a career pathway that otherwise may not have been available to them.

“For me, growing up in DC, I’ve always felt the need to give back to my hometown,” said Cristian Blanco, installer at New Columbia Solar. “Joining New Columbia Solar made it possible for me to do just that – the chance to do something positive for my community.”

By taking interest in a local community solar project, the White House staff was able to bring together clean energy professionals, residents of an affordable housing community, property owners and local policymakers, who together could celebrate the positive results after years of local efforts.

News item from New Columbia Solar

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