We Won’t Quit on Clean Energy Policy: Senate Champions Double Down on Build Back Better at Virtual Rally
Thursday, Jan 27 2022
As Congress charts a path for the Build Back Better Act, momentum may be building for the bill’s transformative clean energy investments. Earlier this week more than 260 clean energy companies sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging action on the bill, and now two Senate champions are stepping up to support solar power.
Earlier this week, Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N. M.) joined Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper to discuss the promising path forward for renewable energy policy. The virtual rally, hosted by the SEIA and Clean Energy for America, focused on the importance of the Build Back Better Act and urged Americans not to give up on this important legislation.
Sens. Smith and Luján said they were determined to get the clean energy provisions across the finish line. “There’s no reason that we can’t come together on this,” he said, urging rally participants to dig in and strengthen their advocacy.
For both Senators, this legislation is personal. They both reflected on the commitment they have made to their constituents and communities to address climate change, whether that be stopping the year-round wildfire season in New Mexico or keeping energy prices low for north Minneapolis communities that have been disproportionately harmed by fossil fuel pollution.
Senator Smith reminded the audience that the clean energy industry has a strong economic argument to make, and that fairness and economic competitiveness should be at the heart of the discussion.
Senator Smith also emphasized that clean energy investments can create quality, well-paying local jobs in every community. “Clean energy jobs are always going to be United States jobs. This is something you can’t outsource: you can’t outsource installation, you can’t outsource energy efficiency improvements,” she said.
Senator Smith also highlighted the need for training programs and job opportunities that can reach Americans in every zip code and economic circumstance. “It goes directly to issues of inclusion and making sure that those opportunities are available to people in communities that have been systematically excluded from job opportunities,” Senator Smith said.
While it has been said that the Build Back Better Act could move forward in a different form, both see a path forward for the key climate provisions.
Senator Smith said that she’s focused on getting the strongest climate provisions passed and called clean energy tax credits “a key policy lever” that will drive progress on climate change.
The current legislation includes a 10-year extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) with direct pay, significant investments in domestic manufacturing, transmission and energy storage tax credits, and workforce development support.
These policies would create much needed certainty for solar companies that need a stable policy environment after experiencing numerous headwinds in 2021. Price increases, a series of supply chain challenges, and ongoing trade disruptions are all concerning developments that could impede the industry’s ability to meet this climate moment. Already, Wood Mackenzie has adjusted the solar installation forecast for 2022 and dropped it by 25% over previous estimates.
Both senators understand that the strong clean energy policy can help to turnaround these concerns.
Senator Luján emphasized that continued momentum and advocacy is going to be a key part of getting this bill over the finish line and expressed optimism. The Senator pointed out that there are numerous ways to support clean energy at the state and local level, and that this momentum helps to earn even more support for federal policies.
SEIA will continue to work alongside Senate champions like Senator Smith and Senator Luján to make sure every lawmaker understands the value of the American clean energy industry.
Learn more about SEIA’s policy priorities and urge your Senator to take action and support the Build Back Better Act.