President Barack Obama announced a new clean energy program in Pennsylvania on Thursday, seeking to show he remains focused on jobs in a state that may be essential to his 2012 re-election prospects.
Obama outlined a plan in his State of the Union address last month to encourage clean and to double by 2035 the U.S. share of electricity from clean energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear and “clean” coal.
As part of that program, Obama announced a plan to improve energy efficiency in U.S. commercial buildings by offering businesses incentives to help pay for upgrades of offices, stores and other buildings, which he said consume 40 percent of the energy Americans use, and could save $40 billion a year.
“Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution and create jobs right here in the United States of America,” Obama told a jammed sports hall at the Pennsylvania State University.
“To get the private sector to lead by example, I’m also issuing a challenge to CEOs, to labor, to building owners, to hospitals, universities and others, to join us,” he said.
Former President Bill Clinton and General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt will lead this outreach to the private sector, a White House official said. Obama tapped Immelt last month as his top outside economic adviser to chair a presidential panel on jobs and competitiveness.
Obama’s push for the United States to build a green economy is part of a global race to dominate what is seen as a potentially huge industry in solar, wind and other alternative energies that offer wealth and energy independence.