On April 20, 2016, the U.S. Senate passed the S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, which has been an effort in the works for over a year by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell. This is good news for the solar power industry because it’s the first comprehensive policy bill to pass in the Senate since 2007. Despite the challenging congressional environment regarding solar power, the new policy contains many wins for the solar industry.
While San Francisco solar power projects and others around the country will continue to expand, the new policy has the inclusion of solar heating and cooling as technologies to meet the federal government’s renewable portfolio standard. Since we all know that heating and cooling are major energy consumers, it paves the way to establish green and eco-friendly initiatives to propel them into solar technologies! Additionally, the policy has language directing the Energy Department to discover the costs and benefits for the proper valuation of distributed generation solar.
On top of that, the new policy also has provisions to improve the permitting process of placing solar power plant sites on federal lands, which opens up the doors to creating more opportunities of generating renewable energy. Furthermore, the policy also directs the Energy Department to conduct studies regarding avian populations to establish a baseline of scientific information. Inclusion of the SAVE Act, also incorporates language to incorporate the savings from energy-efficient upgrades into residential mortgage underwriting, which will benefit homeowners.
It’s without a doubt that the policy brings exciting news to the solar industry because pro-solar initiatives will continue to make the United States less dependent on non-renewable sources of energy. This goes hand-in-hand with Paris Agreement, which is a global action plan to dramatically reduce emissions, where 196 countries, including the United States, signed to decrease the reliance of fossil fuels in favor of cleaner forms of energy – like solar power!