Robert Menendez

US Senator for New Jersey
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Legislation To Spur Solar Power Manufacturing, Create 21st Century Jobs Introduced By Menendez, Stabenow, And Bennet

As U.S. slips behind China in solar manufacturing, bill would help transition to a clean energy economy

November 9, 2009

Washington – U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) today introduced legislation to boost the manufacturing of solar power equipment and the job creation that accompanies it. Currently, a 30 percent Solar Investment Tax Credit (SITC) exists for the purchase or installation of solar power technology. Under the Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act, equipment and facilities used to manufacture solar power technology would be added to the eligible property list for the SITC. Senators Menendez and Stabenow are members of the Senate Finance Committee.

“By embracing and investing in promising clean energy technology, we have a golden opportunity to simultaneously address three of our biggest needs: job creation, lower energy costs and cleaner air,” said Senator Menendez. “This is the type of initiative that helps our economic recovery by creating new jobs, while laying the foundation for economic security in the long term. Right now, plenty of other nations, including China, are ahead of us in manufacturing solar power technology, which better positions them for economic strength in the 21st Century. We have always been a world leader in innovation, and it’s time that we grab this economic opportunity.”

“Our companies continue to lead the way in solar manufacturing, creating good-paying jobs and laying the foundation for 21st century manufacturing,” said Stabenow. “As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I co-authored the first-ever tax credit for manufacturers of advanced technologies in the recovery act. This bill will provide additional tax credits for solar equipment manufacturers that will help us win the global race to produce solar panels in the clean energy economy.”

“When it comes to clean energy, America needs to lead the world, not follow in the footsteps of its foreign competitors,” said Bennet.  “We need to embrace forward-thinking policies that help American business harness the power of the sun to create new, good-paying jobs and help our economy recover.  This bill will take us one step further in building a new, clean energy economy that will power America for years to come.”

In the House, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-01) plans on introducing companion legislation in the near future.

This legislation is needed for several reasons:

The U.S. is losing the global race for solar technology and manufacturing jobs.
•    A decade ago, the U.S. produced more than 40% of the word’s solar photovoltaic (PV) cells.
•    In 2008, the U.S. produced only 5% of the world’s solar cells. 

The Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act will spur growth and create jobs.
•    Solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt of energy produced than any other form of energy.   
•    The impact would be immediate with firms having an incentive to make their investments early in order to capitalize on the refundable credit.

Other countries are providing incentives to attract solar manufacturing jobs. 
•    Malaysia: 15-year income tax holiday.
•    Philippines: 6-year income tax holiday. 
•    Germany: Grants of 30% of investment costs for large enterprises (40%-50% for small/medium enterprises).

ARRA is a great start, but not enough to keep solar manufacturing in the U.S.
•    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) included a competitive tax credit capped at $2.3 billion for advanced energy manufacturing projects (new code Section 48C). 

•    The credit is a good start to increase domestic solar manufacturing; however:

o    Investment decisions are delayed because firms must apply and be certified for the credit.  o    The cap will cause the program to likely sunset after the first round of applications.

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