Seal the #AmericanEnergyDeal: Congress, It’s Time to Invest in U.S. Clean Energy
Thursday, Jul 07 2022
Solar workers developing a community solar project on the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Reservation in Colorado. Photo courtesy of the GRID Alternatives Tribal Program.
President Biden entered the Oval Office on the promise of a new energy economy that would revive economic opportunities for American workers, drive down costs and slash emissions. Now, a year and a half later, action is even more urgent. As the window of opportunity narrows for Congress to act, the time is now to cut an American Energy Deal.
Energy is front and center on Americans’ minds. In the months since the House of Representatives first voted on a package including historic clean energy policies, electricity prices rose 12%, consumer confidence declined by more than 15%, the war in Ukraine rattled energy security and reliability nerves and climate impacts from heat waves to flooding impacted communities across the country. We also must make sure that energy policy supports environmental justice and clean energy in disadvantaged communities. These are all challenges that investments in an equitable clean energy economy would alleviate, if not resolve, enabling America to power up clean, cheap energy production here at home.
To achieve this, a central component of any energy deal must be a long-term extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The ITC is arguably the most influential solar policy in America. Since 2006, the solar industry has grown to employ more than 230,000 Americans and has generated substantial private sector investment. Yet to drive growth at the pace required to tackle climate change, U.S. solar and storage businesses must have the investment certainty provided by a long-term extension of the ITC. Phasing the credit down or letting it lapse at this stage would limit job growth and snuff out hundreds of billions of dollars in future private sector investment.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) also supports policies that would increase the flexibility of financing —such as direct pay — in order to rapidly deploy solar and storage and drive demand for manufacturing.
To that end, no deal would be complete without a commitment to domestic solar manufacturing. Companies are waiting in the wings to invest billions of dollars in American manufacturing if Congress passes supportive policies. Absent this legislation, and with seriously-flawed current trade and tariff policies, American solar manufacturing will be imperiled.
The Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act (SEMA), championed by Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), would jumpstart domestic production. SEMA would build a U.S. supply chain, helping the solar industry to reach its goal of 50 gigawatts of annual domestic production capacity by 2030 and creating manufacturing jobs across the country.
Members of Congress know what they need to do to bring cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable energy to their constituents. The opportunity exists. Now it’s time to make an #AmericanEnergyDeal and get this done.