SEIA has a solar industry wish list for the incoming Biden administration


Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the SEIA trade group, spoke at a press session yesterday, and provided a solar wish list for the Biden administration.

Among the policies SEIA will be seeking most urgently is tax policy that expands the use of solar energy, trade policy that offers predictability to the industry and “permitting approvals that cut red tape”.

  1. ITC: She said that the best policy for getting solar through the economic and health crisis is making the investment tax credit (ITC) refundable.
  2. Public lands:  Hopper said, “SEIA would like predictability…A predictable permitting process under Obama kept people focused and accountable. We want to make sure there’s as much land as possible for solar.”
  3. ITC step-down extension
  4. Reduction or removal of the 201 and 301 tariffs: “We are asking President-elect Biden to remove those tariffs a year early.” Hopper said that signals from the Biden transition indicate an understanding of the impact of tariffs upon the industry. She notes that domestic solar manufacturing has seen five solar companies started in the U.S. and that repealing the section 201 tariff might cause U.S. facilities to fail. “It won’t come as a surprise to domestic manufacturing that those tariffs will end. It is not working.” She said there are ways to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. without being reliant on tariffs and cited a recent whitepaper with goals of 100 GW of domestic manufacturing capacity for renewable energy.
  5. Storage: A stand-alone ITC for battery storage
  6. FERC — Hopper said she’d like to see that FERC commissioners understand that the market is changing and that competition is valued. She also favored “honoring the states’ ability to set their own goals” — as opposed to the direction of the recent MOPR rule.

While the Trump administration’s refusal to concede the presidential race is hobbling the peaceful and secure transfer of power (an American tradition since 1787), the Biden transition team is proceeding with the transition as well as it can.

Biden has named the members of his energy transition team, which is led by Arun Majumdar, a founding director of ARPA-E and potential candidate for Secretary of Energy. Other members of the team include climate scientists, policy makers and experts in carbon capture, utilization and storage.

The full extent of Biden’s presidential power won’t be known until the results of two Georgia Senate runoff races are decided in early January. If Democrats win both Senate seats, the Senate will be tied, with Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote. That will place the Senate in Democratic hands, putting Biden in a decidedly strong position to enact his unprecedented $2 trillion climate plan and carbon emissions target.

SEIA’s Hopper notes, “Even as we face a likely divided government, every facet of this agenda has had bipartisan support. Now is the time to take action to generate economic opportunities for Americans in a way that promotes competition and addresses the climate crisis.”

Hopper is “optimistic about next year.”

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