Solar industry: we can drive pollution reductions in Clean Power Plan

Environment America

WASHINGTON, DC– With the Clean Power Plan days away from becoming final, more than 650 solar industry leaders from hundreds of businesses issued a letter to the White House today, supporting a strong plan that emphasizes renewable energy.
“As solar power installers, manufacturers, designers, aggregators, product suppliers, and consultants, we welcome the unveiling of the Clean Power Plan,” reads the letter. “This plan is a critical step toward transforming our energy system to one that protects our health and environment, and that of our children.” 
The Clean Power Plan, expected to be finalized as early as next Monday, places state-by-state limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.
By offering states flexibility in complying with stringent carbon limits, the plan creates an opportunity for states to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources such as solar power.
“The Clean Power Plan is poised to be the largest step the U.S. has ever taken to cut climate-altering carbon pollution,” said Rob Sargent, Energy Program director for Environment America, “and solar power is poised to play a starring role.”
“Solar energy is the most sensible compliance option for states under the Clean Power Plan, said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Solar works in all 50 states, has zero carbon emissions, creates more jobs per megawatt than any other technology, and can be deployed cost-effectively and quickly – all while improving grid reliability.”
News reports on leaked portions of the plan suggest that the final version of the rule could create even more opportunity for clean energy, advocates and industry leaders told reporters in a conference call today.
The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and EnergyWire all reported yesterday that an interim compliance date of 2020 for pollution reductions would be pushed to 2022. Allowing states two additional years to comply could give them time to ramp up production of renewable energy sources, rather than switch to natural gas plants earlier but lock in dirtier sources of energy for decades.
Bloomberg News also reported yesterday states would be given incentives to develop renewable energy sources on an earlier timeline.
Solar power is on the rise across in the U.S., where last year another home or business went solar every 2.5 minutes. According to the latest solar jobs census from the Solar Foundation, the solar industry employed more than 173,0000 last year, and remains among the most rapidly growing sectors of the U.S. economy.
“The Clean Power Plan will help ensure U.S. leadership in the solar industry, which is growing nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy,” said Colin Meehan of First Solar, a U.S.-based solar panel manufacturer and power plant installer and operator. “Utility scale solar generation will be a critical, cost effective tool for helping utilities meet their Clean Power Plan goals while maintaining reliable, affordable electricity for their customers.”
As solar power capacity in the U.S. has grown, its costs have fallen dramatically, with residential prices dropping 46 percent since 2010. Declining prices are one reason solar is becoming more accessible, more versatile, and more equipped to play a big role in carbon pollution reductions, industry leaders said.
“Our country’s investments in clean energy must benefit and be accessible to everyone, especially lower income families. Many states have already created or are working on developing innovative programs to ensure equitable access to their renewable energy investments,” said Stan Greschner of Grid Alternatives, a nonprofit that focuses on making renewable energy technology and job training accessible to underserved communities. “It’s encouraging to see increased interest in these issue and that the discussions are solutions-oriented.”
“Solar power delivers significant environmental and financial benefits to consumers,” said Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of EnergySage, the online marketplace for solar power systems. “The timing for this proposal couldn’t be better. The Clean Power Plan will help the solar industry to reach more households more quickly, accelerating and amplifying solar’s impact on preventing climate change.”