Solar’s bright ideas for the green stimulus package
Carrying on one of the most annoying campaign memes (and boy is that bar high) into current policy discussions, the New York Times published an article that begins with the line:
Move over Joe the Plumber. Spencer the Solar Installer is here.
Every group under the sun has ideas for how their issue could be made a part of the stimulus package to create green jobs and power an economic renaissance, and solar advocates are no different. The Solar Energy Indstries Association posted their priorities here [PDF].
There are several phases to the effort of turning the economic crisis into solar opportunity. First are ideas that can legitimately turn into paychecks for American workers in the next few months — those go in the stimulus.
One idea we sent to the Obama transition team is a pitch for massive federal procurement of solar. With 500,000 buildings, the federal sector represents about 0.5 percent of the entire U.S. building inventory. And each year, U.S. taxpayers spend more than $3 billion to heat, cool, light, and power those buildings. A massive investment in solar energy to power the federal government could lower electricity bills, reduce carbon emissions, and develop energy security for the country’s most important missions. Rooftops of federally owned buildings have an estimated capacity to support at least 2,000 MW of solar. And with some 588 million acres under federal management, there’s clearly room for any amount of large-scale solar power plants to serve, say, the large military bases in the Southwest.
Longer term will be the major policy changes, including a federal RPS and a real focus on transmission. More on that later.