WASHINGTON, March 9 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate's green jobs subcommittee, has introduced legislation to encourage the installation of 10 million solar systems on the rooftops of homes and businesses over the next decade.
At a Capitol Hill press conference, Environment America today released a report highlighting the potential of solar energy and the many ways that solar power can transform life by enhancing energy security and reducing pollution. The report also identifies the obstacles to wider use in the United States and indentifies a combination of policies that could boost solar enough to meet 10 percent of America's energy needs.
"At a time when we spend $350 billion importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries every year, the United States must move away from foreign oil to energy independence," Sanders said. "A dramatic expansion of solar power is a clean and economical way to help break our dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, improve our geopolitical position, and create good-paying green jobs."
Sanders' bill would authorize rebates which, along with other incentives, would cover up to half the cost of the 10 million solar power systems and 200,000 water heating systems. Non-profit groups and state and local governments also would be eligible. The legislation would ensure that participating homeowners and businesses also receive information on incentives to improve energy efficiency.
Sanders' measure is patterned after successful state programs promoting solar energy in New Jersey and California, where prices have fallen as the number of solar units increased.
Sanders' 10 Million Solar Roofs and 10 Million Gallons of Solar Water Heating Act of 2010 (S.2993) is cosponsored by Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).
Sanders was joined at the press conference by Sean Garren, clean energy advocate for Environment America; James Resor, chief financial officer of groSolar (White River Junction, Vt.); Anthony Clifford, chief executive officer of Standard Solar (Gaithersburg, Md.); and Kathy Weiss, vice president at First Solar (Tempe, Ariz.).
Sanders said a recent report shows that solar power could help make every state more energy independent if solar units were installed on available rooftop space, because every state can meet 10 percent or more of its electricity needs just through rooftop solar. Moreover, because solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt than other energy sources. Sanders' bill could create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next ten years in the solar industry.
To read a copy of the bill, click here.