The White House has made addressing climate change a centerpiece of its policy agenda. Simultaneously, low-emissions energy in general—and solar power in particular—has seen a large influx of private capital in recent years, a hallmark of a maturing industry that is less reliant on government support.
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U.S. demand for alternative energy is on the rise, even as renewable initiatives falter abroad. In a report on power infrastructure, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently noted that alternative energy—including biofuels and hydropower—accounted for 88 percent of newly installed electric generating capacity in the U.S. for the month of May.
Moves by the EPA will help renewable energy industries even more, advocates say.
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"There's no question that EPA's proposed new air-quality standards for power plants will expand the use of solar nationwide, but it's still way too early to tell by how much," said Ken Johnson, a spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association, in response to an inquiry from CNBC.