Sen. Bernie Sanders Proposes Legislation to Increase Solar PV Systems
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chairman of the Senate’s green jobs subcommittee, has introduced the 10 Million Solar Roofs and 10 Million Gallons of Solar Water Heating Act of 2010to encourage the installation of 10 million solar systems on therooftops of homes and businesses over the next decade along with anincrease in solar hot water capacity of 10 million gallons. “At a time when we spend $350 billion importing oil from SaudiArabia and other countries every year, the United States must move awayfrom foreign oil to energy independence,” Sanders said. “A dramaticexpansion of solar power is a clean and economical way to help breakour dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions thatcause global warming, improve our geopolitical position, and creategood-paying green jobs.”
The proposed bill has 9 co-sponsors including Environment and PublicWorks Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sens. Patrick Leahy(D-Vt.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), SheldonWhitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), KirstenGillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).
The bill sites the success of state-wide solar incentive programslike those implemented in California, New Jersey, Hawaii and Florida.It also frames the need for increased solar not just as a greenhousegas emissions issue, but as a jobs and national security issue.Sander’s office says that the bill could create hundreds of thousandsof jobs over the next 10 years.
The bill sites that although solar photovoltaic systems are costeffective over time, the upfront costs can make them prohibitive. Yet,“the use of solar photovoltaics on the roofs of 10 percent of existingbuildings could meet 70 percent of peak electric demand”.
U.S. households currently spend $13,000,000,000 on energy for waterheating. In Hawaii, which leads the country in solar water heatinginstallation, a new program to mandate that all new homes use solar hotwater heater is projected to save the average household $600 annuallyand reduce the oil consumption of the State by 30,000 barrels in 2010alone.
The proposed rebates for solar photovoltaics will start at $1.75 perwatt in 2010 and taper down to $.50 per watt by 2019. Solar hot waterheaters will get a rebate of $1.00 per watt thermal-equivalent ininstalled capacity in 2010. The bill stipulates that the program beadministered by the Secretary of Energy.
These rebates along with other incentives would cover up to half thecost of the 10 million solar power systems and 200,000 water heatingsystems. Home owners, businesses, non-profit groups and state and localgovernments would all be eligible. All participants would also receiveinformation on incentives to improve energy efficiency.
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