Meeting the Climate Moment With a 100-Day Agenda for Solar
Monday, Nov 23 2020
I want to share our vision for the next decade, and more specifically, for our new President-elect.
It goes without saying that this is an exciting time to be in the solar industry. We are now 32x bigger than we were a decade ago and this $18 billion industry supports American families in every state. Solar is a job-creating engine with bipartisan support and helps to bring clean, affordable electricity to millions. That’s why big businesses like Walmart and Amazon are investing in solar and why 90% of Americans, regardless of political beliefs, support solar.
Our plan for this decade, which we call the Solar+ Decade, calls for solar to represent 20% of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030, up from about 3% today. Like many other industries, we would be in a much better place had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the policy and regulatory hurdles we’ve faced over the last four years. The policies we enact in the next Congress and administration will determine the pace of clean energy adoption, and either accelerate or decelerate our growth.
I don’t have to tell you about the catastrophic impact of climate change and what’s at stake. We know what will happen if we don’t meet this moment. We know that we have to be on a trajectory to 100% clean energy, and we know what needs to happen to unleash the solar industry’s potential.
The solar industry is ready to meet this challenge.
If we meet our Solar+ Decade goals, by 2030 we will employ 600,000 Americans, add $345 billion to our economy, and offset electricity sector emissions by 35%. However, we have to be mindful about the jobs and opportunities that we create, and ensure those benefits go to the communities that need them most.
Fortunately, the President-elect’s climate plan has environmental justice as a core component. This mirrors our own focus on these issues, and we are fervently in favor of policies that account for the frontline and fence line communities most affected by environmental racism and climate change.
To be successful and meet this moment, SEIA has created The Solar Vision, a 100-day agenda, which outlines specific policies and executive actions that the new Congress and administration can take to help modernize our infrastructure and invest in clean, affordable electricity.
There are three facets to our plan.
First, we must continue to advance bold clean energy goals and seriously consider a national clean energy standard and comprehensive carbon policy. Second, we need to invest in clean energy infrastructure and the workforce needed to support it. We can’t build our clean energy economy without being intentional about the people we employ and the communities that benefit from it. Third, we must ensure that electricity markets are competitive and remain open to clean energy. We are competing and winning on price, but if we don’t have access to electricity markets and the same benefits that incumbent energy generators enjoy, we won’t get very far.
There is a lot in SEIA’s plan, but we’ve highlighted six actions for President-elect Biden to prioritize in his first few days in office, which we have named our “6 for 46”:
- Issue an executive order to remove Section 201 tariffs on imported solar cells and modules;
- Establish a climate czar with environmental justice as a top priority;
- Send bold legislation addressing climate change and clean energy to Congress, including calling for a five-year extension of the 30% solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) with a permanent refundability option, as well as a standalone ITC for energy storage and significant funding for SolarApp, an expedited permitting program to reduce soft costs;
- Make policy investments to support domestic solar manufacturing;
- Appoint FERC commissioners that understand the changing energy landscape, value competition and respect state autonomy to set climate goals; and
- Ensure the Department of Interior is committed to responsible development of renewable energy on public lands.
This vision is absolutely achievable under a closely divided government. Every facet of this agenda enjoys bipartisan support, and now is the time to take action to generate economic opportunities for Americans in a way that promotes competition and tackles the climate crisis.
We can make real progress toward a better future for all Americans by taking action on these items and the other proposals in SEIA’s 100-day agenda.