50,000 U.S. military veterans working in the solar industry by 2020. That is the commitment we made to President Obama and announced today by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of the nationwide initiative, Joining Forces, which works with the public and private sector to support veterans through wellness, education and employment opportunities.
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In 1970, the first ever Earth Day was held to demonstrate broad global support for environmental protection. At the time, the world’s population stood at 3.63 billion. Today, that number has more than doubled.
Cutting costs has been the key to solar’s rapid expansion this decade. The lion’s share of cost reductions in the solar industry has come from reductions in module prices. The $4 per watt you’d have paid in 2006 for modules alone gets you the entire residential solar system installed today.
And then along came third party financing, which made solar available to all. The $20,000 or $30,000 a homeowner once needed to pay for a solar system can now be afforded through a car-like low monthly payment.
So what's next for the industry's next big cost breakthrough?
With more than 8,000 companies now operating nationwide, solar energy has become one of the fastest-growing industries in America — thanks, in large part, to remarkable growth on both the West and East coasts. California, as expected, continues to lead the way with nearly 10 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity, but on the other side of the country, five Eastern states — New Jersey, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut — are now closing in on a total of 4 GW of installed capacity.
For states looking to meet new obligations under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) have jointly published a handbook detailing how to incorporate renewable energy into state plans to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants.
In the critically-acclaimed movie, All the President’s Men, a shadowy, raspy-voiced character named Deep Throat advises Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to “follow the money” in the wake of the Watergate break-in and cover-up. That was more than 40 years ago. Yet, in the bare knuckles, take-no-prisoners world of Washington politics, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Someone once said, “the life you live is the lesson you teach.” Well, there isn’t a better example of that than the historic “we’re all in” commitment made in 2002 by California to secure a clean energy future.
Today’s new economy is driven by industries that are characterized by cutting-edge technology and high growth. Sound familiar? Well, it should.
Remarkably, America’s solar energy industry, which continues to grow at a very brisk pace, now has more employees than tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter combined. And to top it all off, 2014 turned out to be another record-shattering year!
Is it politics at play? Or simply a case of sloppy drafting? Whichever the case, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has a tough choice to make in the next few days. Legislation now on his desk, HB 2201, could jeopardize the future of rooftop solar in the state by rewriting West Virginia’s net-metering policies. Regardless of the motives of the bill’s authors, pure or clandestine, we strongly urge Gov. Tomblin to do the right thing – veto the bill and start over.
Mark Twain said it best, there are “lies, damned lies and statistics.” It’s hard to tell which is which after closely reviewing the latest hatchet job on solar energy by the Koch brothers’ front group, The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA).