Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, may be reintroducing legislation that wilted, after much excitement, in 2010 to install solar photovoltaic and water heaters on 10 million American roofs by 2020.
The piece of legislation has more steam behind it since Secretary of Energy Steven Chu’s SunShot Initiative went through earlier this month. Since the SunShot program aims to make solar energy more affordable—at least as affordable as coal technology—the cost of subsidizing solar roofs for 10 million Americans drops dramatically and makes Sanders’ legislation more attractive.
Sanders introduced the legislation entitled “10 million Solar Roofs and 10 million gallons of solar hot water Act” in 2010.
“It passed out of committee last year, which is a good sign,” said Sanders’ spokesman Will Wiquist.
But it has been stalled since July.
Wiquist said there is talk in Sanders’ office of reintroducing the legislation soon.
He said Sanders is considering reintroducing the legislation with some adjustments now, so it will be a strong companion to the new SunShot initiative, Wiquist said.
The act would create a grant program for residential solar installations, offsetting costs to homeowners and encouraging solar photovoltaic and solar hot water heating installations.
The legislation would require $250 million in fiscal year 2012 and $500 million a year between 2013 and 2021.
Wiquist said Sanders aims to incorporate some elements of the SunShot program into the 10 million roofs bill, especially focusing on improving the solar permitting process for residential installations.
“Consistent with that idea,” Wiquist wrote in an e-mail, “the Ten Million Solar Roofs legislation, which already includes a competitive grant program for states and localities, could focus on targeting grant funds to states and communities that commit to adopt best practices for solar permitting.”
Wiquist cited a report from the solar industry that said permitting can cost up to $250,000, or as much as the solar installation itself.
“Making this process more efficient and less costly could make solar cost competitive with other energy sources on the grid in half the nation by 2013,” Wiquist wrote.
That goal is consistent with the SunShot Initiative and seems like it could be well received in congress now.