Solar supports included within ‘landmark’, US$1.5trn US infrastructure Bill

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The Moving Forward Act is a combination of various prospective Bills. Image: Flickr/Matt Wade.

Measures designed to support solar and other renewables in the US have been proposed within a landmark US$1.5 trillion infrastructure investment Bill, tabled by House Democrats.

The ‘Moving Forward Act’ itself started life as the INVEST in America Act, a US$500 billion bill intended to support redevelopment of America’s highways. However House Democrats have now merged it and other legislation to create a mammoth, US$1.5 trillion infrastructure package to boost the nation’s economy.

The Moving Forward Act now poses a significant investment package for the US’ transport, housing, connectivity, water and – most pertinently – clean energy sectors, with a raft of measures designed to support them moving forward.

Prospective measures to support renewables include;

  • A modernisation of energy infrastructure, including an investment of more than US$70 billion to help modify grids to accommodate more renewable energy sources;
  • A commitment to “reinvigorate” the country’s commitment to clean energy by building on existing tax incentives, and;
  • Promoting green energy and energy efficiency projects that adopt high-road labour practices.

While the Moving Forward Act obviously has a significant journey ahead of it before it can be passed into law, it represents a growing appetite for governments throughout the world to turn to clean energy as a means of boosting their economic fortunes as they recover from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any commitment from the US government to extend tax incentives for renewable energy deployment, especially against the backdrop of a declining Investment Tax Credit, would also be warmly welcomed by the US solar industry.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said the trade body stood ready to work with bipartisan leaders in both the House and Senate on policies that “help put American solar workers in a position to lead economic recovery.”

“We know that with the right policies in place, including many of those proposed in the Moving Forward Act, clean energy can add hundreds of billions of dollars in investment and perhaps a million or more jobs back into the economy.

“Close to ninety percent of Americans support policies to promote a clean energy future. We will continue to work with Congress to push for policies that help restore lost solar jobs and resume our industry’s progress in the Solar+ Decade.”

The US solar industry has been beset by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with residential installs having slowed and jobs lost as the economic impact continues to reverberate. In March SEIA expressed fears that as many as half of US solar jobs could be lost in the novel coronavirus fallout, and last week analysis from ACORE suggested that a further 27,000 clean energy jobs had been lost last month, taking the total to more than 620,000 – around 100,000 of which had come directly from renewables.

There have, of course, already been attempts to include supports for clean energy, and solar in particular, within economic stimulus packages in the US. Attempts to include an extension for the solar ITC within an initial package of measures designed to support the US economy were, however, unsuccessful.

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