President Obama has signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a $787 billion stimulus package intended to create jobs, jump start growth and transform the U.S. economy to compete in the 21st century. Obama signed the bill at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where he toured the building's solar installation.
The compromise version of the act will create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, according to the White House. Among the other measures, the package will double renewable energy generating capacity over three years, as well as create a Clean Energy Finance Authority that, combined with renewable tax credits, will leverage an additional $100 billion in private investment in the renewables sector. The finance authority will provide loan guarantees and other financial support to help ease credit constraints for renewable energy investors and catalyze new private-sector investment.
‘The solar industry is poised to lead the new, clean energy economy, and the strong solar provisions in this legislation will help give hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Americans a job that they can be proud of,’ says Rhone Resch, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) president and CEO. ‘The solar energy provisions in this bill will help create 60,000 jobs in the solar industry in 2009 alone and a total of 110,000 over the next two years.’
‘But this stimulus bill alone won't sustain the clean energy economy that is our future. We encourage Congress and the Obama administration to implement long-term policies that will make clean solar energy available to every American,’ Resch adds. ‘We need policies like a national renewable portfolio standard with specific mandates for solar, investment in our transmission infrastructure and a way to address climate change that gives credit to clean sources like solar and reinvests proceeds to increase solar installation.’
Solar companies immediately hailed the bill's passage. ‘Oerlikon Solar applauds the speed and effectiveness that the House, Senate and the Obama administration has demonstrated in passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,’ says Jeannine Sargent, CEO of Oerlikon. ‘In particular, the manufacturing tax credit is an excellent first step to help generate some of the five million new green jobs President Obama has cited in his commitment to help transform our energy infrastructure from fossil fuels imported from abroad to clean energy manufactured and produced in America.’
The company also endorsed the package's Department of Energy grant provision to help investors and developers capture the value of the 30% investment tax credit for renewable energy projects. This provision will loosen gridlock in the capital markets with funding for shovel-ready solar projects that have been on hold due to lack of available financing, Oerlikon says, and it will benefit the entire solar industry, as it can apply to projects of any size.
SOURCES: White House, SEIA, Oerlikon Solar