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Giving Thanks, Staying Safe, and Looking Ahead to 2021

An Open Letter to the Solar Industry

Thursday, Nov 26 2020

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By
Abigail Ross Hopper
fall solar installation

With a devastating COVID-19 surge gripping the nation, these are undoubtedly troubling times for our nation. But as this unprecedented year nears its end, I still see so much hope and excitement for the clean energy industry. Experts around the globe – from the International Energy Agency to the World Economic Forum – have set expectations for massive clean energy growth in the near and long term. The work we have ahead of us to engage the incoming Biden administration and 117th Congress on an ambitious agenda to support clean energy and climate action contributes to this optimism for an exciting future.

Back in the spring, I wrote a couple of open letters to the solar industry to provide information and insight about the impacts of COVID-19 and what we’ve been doing to face the challenges and opportunities of 2020. With the holiday season upon us, I wanted to connect with you again and offer my perspective on what keeps me hopeful and thankful for the U.S. solar industry.

Solar keeps on working for America

From the very beginning of the pandemic, we advocated for solar to be included within essential infrastructure, and worked successfully with the Department of Homeland Security to issue guidance to that effect. This guidance was then adopted and utilized by many states around the country in their stay-at-home orders. The good news is that this trend appears to be holding during the most recent government responses to rising cases.

States such as Washington, Michigan, Texas and Ohio have all issued new, stricter orders on business activities in recent days, but from what we’ve seen, none of them impact solar installations. We’ll continue to work with stakeholders in state and federal government to ensure that solar workers can keep building projects safely and in accordance with guidance from public health officials.

What you need to work safely

Speaking of guidance, I want to point out the large catalogue of useful resources we’ve created and collected on our website to give you the tools you need to keep your business thriving through the pandemic. We’ve continued to keep these resources fresh, with recent updates on hosting virtual site visits, factsheets on the impact of COVID-19 on tax equity markets, and the latest guidance from OSHA on safe workplace practices. I hope you find these resources useful as we collectively navigate this latest surge and keep each other safe.

We are still poised to help rebuild better

We know that the solar industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the country and can be a huge driver of new jobs and economic opportunity as we look to rebuild from this crisis. In this final legislative session of 2020, SEIA is continuing to advocate for policies that can help stimulate the solar economy and put Americans back to work. Modifications to the ITC, funding for key DOE programs like SolarAPP, and other priorities are easy wins that Congress can achieve now.

While we see significant opportunity for longer-term initiatives in the next Congress and presidential administration, this is no time to sit idly by, with millions of Americans unemployed and a climate crisis that will not wait for the next Congress to be seated.

Investing for the long term

While we address the current challenges of COVID-19, it’s also critical that we keep our eyes on the future and create the foundation of what we believe will be a decade of significant growth for solar. That’s why we laid out a detailed agenda for the incoming Biden administration and the 117th Congress, and are working with the Presidential transition team and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to garner support for policies that will put us on the path to solar reaching 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030.

Throughout his campaign, President-elect Biden has articulated interrelated and equally critical challenges: climate change, racial inequality and injustice, and economic recovery from COVID-19. With the right mix of actions and policies, the solar industry can address all of those challenges and we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work in 2021.

This Thanksgiving may be a very unusual one, with many families choosing to stay home rather than travel to spend the holiday with loved ones in light of alarming increases in cases and hospitalizations nationwide. I hope that you will still have the chance to take a break from your daily grind and enjoy the holiday while we reflect on a strange and difficult year. Despite the challenges we’ve faced, I could not be more optimistic about the future of solar in America, and I look forward to making our vision a reality alongside you.

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