By Sarah Kiner
The House of Representatives, mostly Republican-led, is determined to cut spending and possible future subsidies for solar power and clean energy by focusing attention to reduce or eliminate federal grant and loan guarantee programs.
The solar industry is concerned about the possibility of losing grant or loans because programs like the U.S. Treasury grant program are expected to expire this year (this is the program that helped keep solar power alive through the recession). Also, the Energy Department loan guarantee program that is ending on October 1 has allotted $35 billion in loan guarantees for solar, wind, geothermal and other clean energy projects, producing more than 68,000 jobs.
Even though clean energy has provided so many jobs, the anticipation for a national clean energy standard is fading in Congress because delegates are debating about what kind of energy sources America should use. This deliberation in Congress could stall the advancement of solar energy, but solar energy has become increasingly more prevalent, so the threat will not cause this form of energy to dwindle down.
According to Solar Energy Industries Association, solar energy alone employs 100,000 Americans and last year alone, solar power has grown by 67% last year. This growth has proven to be faster than any other U.S. industry.
Opponents to solar believe that the solar industry should be self-reliant in the energy market, without the help of taxpayers. Yet solar supporters consider it unfair to have solar be in the energy market without the aid of the government because for decades the federal government subsidized coal, oil, gas, and nuclear energy. The U.S. government has supported nuclear and clean-coal technology research, oil drilling tax incentives, and helped finance dams for hydropower. Now it is time for solar to get some help.
Richard Caperton, an energy analysis with the center for American Progress, says:
If we stop spending money on some very cost-effective programs for clean energy, all it’s going to do is put clean energy at an even bigger competitive disadvantage.
It is true that solar and wind power are the most costly ways to generate electricity, yet solar’s cost is dropping as it becomes more efficient and as the industry expands. In fact, the average price to install a solar power system has fell by 20% nationwide from the beginning of 2010 to the end of the year.
(Source: USA Today)