Solar Industry Association testifies on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Testifying before the House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee, solar industry leaders presented lawmakers with a proposal to help ease the looming natural gas crisis, create 42,000 new jobs in the next decade, and make solar the economic choice for millions of Americans. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), representing more than 20,000 employees in the U.S. solar industry, said the Energy Policy Act of 2005 should contain strong growth provisions for solar energy as part of a balanced energy portfolio.

“This bill needs to be a 21st century energy bill,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president. “We need to stop subsidizing 19th century technologies and create markets for new, reliable energy sources. Solar power is a technology that can help meet our current energy needs, while strengthening America’s economic and energy security for the future.”

Polls show more than 90 percent of Americans support the increased use of solar power, and Resch said including solar-friendly provisions would help increase support for an energy bill.

With natural gas demand and prices skyrocketing, Resch told the House Subcommittee that solar power could displace 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas by 2025—saving American consumers approximately $64 billion. “We have the highest natural gas prices in the world,” said Resch.

“Solar is the perfect technology to displace a portion of the natural gas demand and relieve some of the tightness in the natural gas markets,” Resch added. “It can directly displace the need for peaking and intermediate gas plants, because solar power is greatest from 10 to 4 every day—the time that the grid experiences peak power demand.”

In addition, Resch said, the industry could create 40,000 new U.S. solar industry jobs and more than $34 billion in new manufacturing investments over the next 10 years. By 2030, the U.S. solar industry could employ 260,000 people. To achieve these goals, SEIA called on Congress to enact sustained, annually declining tax credits for solar deployment.

The incentives would help lower retail solar electricity prices from the current rate of 18 to 25 cents per kilowatt hour to 5.7 cents/kWh in 10 years, making solar the lowest cost retail option.

Addressing Energy Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Hall (Texas), Resch noted that the chairman’s home state of Texas would be second among all 50 states to benefit from the industry proposal.

“As the center of the energy industry, Texas is in the position to attract a significant portion of the new high-tech jobs in the solar industry,” Resch said. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the oil and gas industry has downsized some 14,000 jobs in Texas over the last 10 years. Following our recommendations, the photovoltaic industry alone could create over 5,500 new jobs in Texas in the next decade.”

There are currently more than 85 companies in the Texas solar industry. The state is home to roughly 770 companies with 88,000 employees that manufacture components similar to those used in solar manufacturing, such as sheet metal work, semiconductors, and plastic materials. Resch estimated Texas would reap almost $4.5 billion in new business investments in 10 years under the proposal.

Further details: Solar Energy Industries Association, Mark Burger,; 708-267-7965.

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