During a clean-energy summit Friday at Morgan State University, the U.S. secretaries of labor and energy announced plans to work with historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, to improve access to solar energy for low- and moderate-income families.
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Clean Energy Coalition will work to bring solar energy installation programs to the neighborhoods surrounding their campuses and teach people how to lower their utility costs. The initiative will also emphasize job skills training for clean-energy careers.
"We want to help position HBCUs as clean-energy leaders with community commitments," Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Friday during a panel discussion led by Morgan State University President David Wilson.
"One of the values of this president is that ZIP codes should never determine destinies," Labor Secretary Tom Perez said during the panel, which was part of the White House Clean Energy Savings for All Summit at Morgan.
In an interview following the panel session, Wilson said he sees the energy initiative as part of Morgan's responsibility to help improve its neighboring communities.
"We want to make sure we are extending our tentacles into our neighborhoods and bringing initiatives that will allow them to lower their utility bills," Wilson said.
In addition to the HBCU collaboration, Moniz and Perez also announced a partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to improve energy efficiency in HUD-assisted and public housing, and updated guidelines for clean-energy financing programs for state and local government agencies.
A senior adviser to Moniz, David Foster, said department officials are optimistic that the initiatives will continue into the administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump.
The summit and initiatives announced Friday are part of President Barack Obama's Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative, which aims to make solar and clean energy more affordable and accessible to homeowners.