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U.S. Solar Companies Could Gain on New Solar Push by Obama

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- On Friday, President Obama was scheduled to announce several new energy initiatives aimed at pushing solar energy in the U.S.

The $2 billion plan, which will bypass deadlocked Congress using executive privilege, will seek to aid in solar installation financing as well as training for building a solar workforce.

The announcement will be made at a Wal-Mart (WMT) in Mountain View, Calif.

I can attest to the power of federal and state influence in solar. I installed my solar system almost eight years ago through similar federal and state grants.

Not only has the solar system help reduce my energy bill, but it has helped foster a desire to go above and beyond in energy conservation in other areas, a benefit that does not garner much press attention.

When I installed my 6 kilowatt system, it cost $43,500. After state and federal rebates, the total out-of-pocket came to $13,500 for a 70% savings. Before solar, my average monthly bill was $300. Today it is $5.

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The solar sector has been under a lot of pressure in recent weeks, and Friday's announcment to fund solar energy in the U.S. could help bring trader interest back to the sector.

Solar leader First Solar (FSLR) should benefit from this new interest. Other companies that could see renewed trader interest include GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), which provides materials and equipment to the solar industry, and Ascent Solar Technologies (ASTI), a maker of flexible, lightweight solar modules that allow for applications without the restrictions of conventional glass panels.

STR Holdings (STRI), a manufacturer of encapsulants for solar modules, is another company to watch.

These companies are all U.S.-based, a likely criteria for the president's new solar energy push.

At the time of publication, the author had positions in ASTI, positons can change at any time.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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