President Obama signs stimulus bill, solar trade groups applaud

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“Because we know we can’t power America’s future on energy that’s controlled by foreign dictators, we are taking a big step down the road to energy independence and laying the groundwork for a new green energy economy that can create countless well-paying jobs,” said President Barack Obama aftger singing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act today in Denver.

Two leading solar industry trade associations issued statements supporting the signing the $787 billion package, citing several provisions in the stimulus program that will help the sector.

“I applaud President Obama for his leadership in crafting an economic recovery bill that will put the country back on track as the economic leader of the world,” said Rhone Resch, president/CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Assn. (SEIA). “It is fitting that he has decided to sign the bill into law in a state-of-the-art building, powered by solar energy.

“This building (the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which has a 100-KW PV rooftop system) is an example of what is happening throughout the U.S.; small businesses installing cutting-edge solar technology funded by local nonprofit project finance resulting in huge taxpayer benefits,” referring to local installer Namaste Solar Electric and the nonprofit Partnership for Sustainability, which are responsible for the museum’s solar array.

“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,” Resch continued. “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,” said the association head. “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.”

Trade group SEMI also applauded several solar-related provisions in the bill, such as the creation of a new manufacturing tax credit, a temporary loan guarantee program, a new DOE program that will provide grants as an alternative to the investment tax credit, and increased federal procurement.

“SEMI commends Congress for the renewable energy provisions that will benefit solar energy including the creation of a new manufacturing tax credit for renewable energy,” said Davis.  “This new tax incentive is a step in the right direction and shows the commitment by Congress to
renewable energy.  SEMI looks forward to working closely with Congress on the upcoming energy bill.”

SEMI also cited other favorable aspects of the “hallmark legislation,” including significant funding increases for key science agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes for Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy.

“R&D investment is critical to our future. It is in the long-term interest of SEMI members and fuels needed innovation,” said Davis. “Increased federal R&D investments will provide an immediate boost to researchers in high-tech fields and create discoveries to address many of our challenges.”

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