Utah could reap many economic benefits from the development of utility-scale solar power in the state, including thousands of local jobs.
Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association writes in NewWest that the Department of Treasury grant program, which has driven growth in the solar industry, is set to expire in December. Resch argues that extending that grant is a smart thing to do.
A recent study by EuPD Research found that extending the Treasury grant program for two years would add nearly 65,000 new jobs and result in 5,100 megawatts of new solar installations, enough to power 1 million homes. This is an essential policy mechanism that allows utility-scale and commercial solar developers access to critical financing that has been painfully absent during the economic downturn.
To date, the Treasury grant program has provided significant economic value and savings for American taxpayers, according to the report. The best part is that extending this program will provide a return on the taxpayers’ investment, considering the hundreds of thousands of workers leaving the unemployment line and making a good living in the solar industry.
The fossil fuel industry has received more than $70 billion in taxpayer subsidy over the past decade. Resch says it’s time to develop other energy sources, and the public supports that move.
When Gotham Research Group in February asked a sampling of Americans to weigh in on the development of energy on public lands, three out of four supported the development of solar energy plants on public lands. Solar power was also the top choice (38 percent) as the best use of public lands not being set aside as nature preserves or national parks.
The challenge is streamlining the development of solar power on public land. Resch says the Department of Interior is working on plans to streamline that process, but the process needs to move faster.