Hillary Clinton's half a billion solar panel pledge


U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has pledged to engineer a decisive shift towards a renewable energy future should she win 2016’s presidential race.

Outspoken Clinton, wife of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, also told an audience at the Iowa State University Alumni Center on Sunday that the first four years of her time in office would see half a billion solar panels installed across the country.

The front-runner for the presidential nomination added that her ultimate goal would be for renewable energy to power every home in the U.S. within a decade of taking office.

"I want more wind, more solar, more advanced biofuels, more energy efficiency," said Clinton. "And I’ve got to tell you, people who argue against this are just not paying attention."

Relatively mute on the topic of climate change thus far during her nomination campaign, Clinton had previously come in for criticism from her Democratic presidential rival Senator Bernie Sanders for not outlining her environmental stance clearly enough.

With the issue of climate change increasingly politicized, Clinton’s pro-renewables rally at the weekend is expected to be the first in an avowed show of support for action on climate change.

During her Iowa speech, Clinton also called for an extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) scheme – due to be reduced from 30% to 10% after December 31, 2016 – and a series of overhauls that would make the scheme more cost-effective, stating that current tax incentives are “too heavily weighted toward fossil fuels.” Should Clinton’s solar plans be realized, it would represent a 700% increase in installed U.S. PV capacity in just four years.

"We’re on the cusp of a new era," she said: "We can create a more open, efficient and resilient grid that connects us, empowers us, improves our health and benefits us all."

Progress made under President Obama’s tenure would be protected and augmented, Clinton added, remarking that the clean energy economy is an underfunded and under-utilized sector that, if properly support, would "create new jobs and new businesses".

Republicans reluctant to properly acknowledge the threat that climate change poses to the U.S. also came in for criticism from the presidential nominee. "They [Republicans] will answer any question about climate change by saying: ‘I’m not a scientist’," Clinton said. "Well, I’m not a scientist either. I’m just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain and I know we’re facing a huge problem."