TIME Environment

White House Announces New Action on Solar Energy

President Barack Obama will announce over 300 new public and private sector commitments to clean, solar energy — but his decision to include Walmart in his plans angered some labor groups

The White House is announcing executive actions to advance clean energy on Friday, including $2 billion worth of upgrades to federal buildings to make them more efficient over the next three years.

President Obama will announce the planned upgrades on Friday in California, where he has been fundraising for Democrats running for the Senate since Wednesday. At the core of Obama’s announcement is a renewed focus on solar energy, including 300 new public and private sector commitments to make solar power more accessible. According to the White House, the commitments represent enough solar energy to power 130,000 homes.

Among the commitments are proposals to use more solar energy in affordable and low-income housing units, and expansion of solar energy at retail stores including Walmart, Apple, and Ikea. The decision to include Walmart angered some labor groups, who say the retailer pays low wages and offers few benefits to its workers. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich openly criticized the inclusion of Walmart in a Facebook post Thursday.

The attention to solar energy follows a White House summit held in mid-April, where the administration urged business owners and local leaders to use more solar energy. At the so-called “solar summit,” the administration launched a $15 million program to help local, state governments combat climate change and utilize solar energy.

Obama is also set to announce the installation of solar panels at the White House residence on Friday. According to the LA Times, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said the installation of solar panels, “helps demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades.”

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