Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) introduced a bill that would lower the cost of solar power and put the United States on track to install 10 million solar systems on homes and businesses by 2020.
Sanders and Boozman are the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee. They were joined in introducing the solar legislation by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
"This legislation will make it more affordable for families and businesses to install solar, by helping communities reduce the costs associated with solar energy permitting," Sanders said. "As we lower the cost of solar energy and increase our use of solar, we can create hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing and installation jobs in this country. This bill also sets strong targets for American solar energy production, to ensure we compete vigorously with China and Europe for solar energy jobs."
Boozman said the goal is to reduce unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles to American-made solar energy. "Our country benefits by using our domestic energy resources, including the expanded use of renewables, such as solar and wind energy. A simplified permitting process will make solar energy more affordable. I am especially pleased that our bill is fully offset and uses existing authorized spending to spur improvements in solar permitting and encourage the deployment of solar energy systems."
The 10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2011 would establish a goal of powering 10 million homes and businesses with solar energy by 2020. The measure also would incorporate a Department of Energy initiative called SunShot to make solar more competitive with conventional energy technologies. The bill would provide grants to communities to help them make their solar energy permitting process less costly and more efficient, and would recognize and reward communities that have adopted common policies on solar permits.
A solar industry report said obstacles to acquiring local permits add up to $2,500 to the cost of a typical residential solar installation. The Department of Energy also identified local permitting costs as an obstacle to further lowering solar energy costs that declined by 60 percent since 1995.
Supporters of The Ten Million Solar Roofs bill include the Solar Energy Industries Association, the National League of Cities, and the League of Conservation Voters.
To read the bill, click here.