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Solar Growth Helping To Drive U.S. Economy

Monday, Jan 26 2015

Nat Kreamer

Recently, I met with several Senators and other legislators to discuss the solar industry. The vast majority of them do not know that there is strong bipartisan support for solar. In the run-up to 2017, it is vital that every legislator knows people of all political persuasions support solar. 

Record development of domestic oil, natural gas, solar, and wind power means America can be energy independent and energy rich again. New technology, private investment, and smart public policies are helping us make it happen now. Congress needs to maintain proven long-term policies that encourage more energy development of all types, including solar power, which enjoys bipartisan voter support.

Expanding by nearly 40 percent last year made solar power one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S.  Bloomberg analysts expect this to continue, predicting that solar will be far and away the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S. through 2030.

Solar is growing because it is cost-effective and saves consumers and businesses money on their electricity bills. By tapping into a local natural resource—the sun—more than half a million consumers now power their homes with solar on their roofs. Large solar power plants, like the five-mile-wide Ivanpah plant in California, as well as others in development, will provide enough power to serve 3.7 million homes in 2017, according to Bloomberg. Much like the first Gold Rush that capitalized the American West, solar power’s growth is rapidly creating new domestic energy wealth. 

Many conservative voters support solar because it improves our liberty, security, and wealth. Last year the Tea Party successfully lobbied to open the Georgia power market to solar so consumers could become energy independent in their homes and not rely on the local utility, which enjoys a government-mandated monopoly. Our military is investing in solar to save money and improve security. For example, diesel fuel delivered in combat costs more than $45 per gallon, according to the U.S. Marine Corps. An average solar panel costs $150, creates as much energy as approximately 250 gallons of diesel, and only has to be delivered safely once. Solar also creates wealth at home. The U.S solar industry experienced great stock markets returns in 2014 because more solar was installed last year than all previous years combined.

Liberal voters often support solar because it creates jobs and improves the environment. Non-partisan research by The Solar Foundation shows that more Americans work in the U.S. solar industry today than in U.S coal. The more solar power we use, the less pollution in our air and water.  41 percent of all fresh water in the U.S. gets evaporated during fossil-fuel-fired electricity generation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Western states need every drop of water they can get and have plenty of sunshine to make electricity from solar. This is great for our economy and environment.

Members of the 114th Congress should know solar energy has strong bipartisan support among voters.  Congress needs to support proven long-term policies that encourage more solar power in America, too.