With all of the bad news about the apparent death of a climate bill in Washington, it’s important to focus on some legislation that would move the ball forward, and is still alive for passage. Last week, Bernie Sander’s solar roofs bill passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, although sadly not a single Republican voted for a low-cost bill to advance solar power. Hopefully the Democrats can find a little support on the Senate floor. Below is information about the legislation.
The Ten Million Solar Roofs Act of 2010 (S. 3460) was introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a member of the Senate energy and environment committees and chairman of the green jobs subcommittee. The bill was passed by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 13 to 10 on July 21, 2010.
- GOAL: Sets a goal, to be met through this and other incentive and R&D programs, of installing solar electric or water hearing systems on at least 10 million properties in ten years.
- AUTHORIZATION: Provides competitive grants through Department of Energy for Fiscal Years 2012-2021, starting with an authorization of $250 million for Fiscal Year 2012. The Department of Energy is directed to provide Congress with a report on recommendations for achieving the ten million solar goal including how to best leverage funds through S. 3460 for Fiscal Years 2013-2021 (those years have an open authorization to provide flexibility to respond to the Department’s recommendations).
- FUNDING MECHANISM: Competitive grants to states, tribes, cities, towns, and counties to help them establish or expand solar loan and incentive programs for homeowners, businesses, schools, and other entities. This approach ensures compatibility with existing incentive programs.
- REQUIREMENTS: Solar systems of 1 megawatt (or thermal equivalent) or less are eligible. No homeowner, business, or school can receive federal/state/local incentives worth more than 50 percent of the cost to purchase and install a solar system (excludes loan programs). 20 percent non-federal cost share. Grantees submit to the Department of Energy an implementation plan including how many solar systems they will deploy under the grant, and how many participants will receive incentives or loans. They will certify that grant funds will be used to establish new programs or supplement, but not supplant, existing solar funding.
- CRITERIA FOR GRANTS: Criteria for the grants include ensuring geographic and population size diversity among awardees, and a ensuring a minimum (at least 2 percent of funding) is available to tribes. Preference is also given to grant recipients who have, or will commit to establishing, net metering, interconnection, and other solar access rules consistent with their authorities.