WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) yesterday introduced legislation that would help encourage the use of solar energy by homeowners and small businesses. The initiative would support new, innovative solar financing strategies being adopted by local governments around the nation by allowing home and business owners to participate in these local programs while still receiving a full solar federal energy tax credit. In addition, the bill would help spur the manufacturing of solar panels here in the United States and would boost the use of solar power in federal buildings.
“Solar power can save people money, create jobs, and help lower greenhouse gas emissions, which is why it needs to be a key part of our green economic recovery,” said Senator Menendez. “This legislation would allow homeowners to take full advantage of programs to help harness solar power and encourage the manufacturing of solar power in our country. These are the sorts of programs with short and long term economy benefits that should be considered for an economic recovery package.”
“We applaud Sen. Menendez’s ongoing efforts to help the solar industry to continue to flourish. This bill will help the solar industry produce 440,000 jobs by 2016 and truly repower our economy,” said Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industry Association.
Senator Menendez’s bill is a companion to legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). It would do the following:
• Allow communities to finance solar panels without forcing their residents’ to forgo federal tax incentives. Instead of incurring upfront costs of up to $40,000, residents would be able to get solar panels for less than $200 per month by taking full advantage of a solar energy tax credit. New Jersey communities are considering adopting such a funding mechanism that was adopted by Berkeley. See the following for details: http://www.berkeleyfirst.renewfund.com/
• Provide a manufacturing tax credit for solar equipment so solar panels can be made affordably right here in America.
• Allow federal buildings to enter into long term solar power purchase agreements. This will mean federal buildings can contract with firms to get power at a fixed rate long period of time. This could result in an immediate savings for taxpayers and the expansion of solar installations.