Legislation introduced in the US Senate yesterday would encourage the installation of 10 million solar power systems and 200,000 solar water heaters on the rooftops of homes and businesses over the next decade.
The Ten Million Solar Roofs and Ten Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act was introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate's green jobs subcommittee, along with nine cosponsors.
A similar bill was introduced in the US House by Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee.
It would authorize rebates and other incentives to cover up to half the cost of the solar power and heating systems.
Non-profit groups and state and local governments also would be eligible.
"At a time when we spend $350 billion importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries every year, the United States must move away from foreign oil to energy independence," Sanders said. "A dramatic expansion of solar power is a clean and economical way to help break our dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, improve our geopolitical position, and create good-paying green jobs."
Sanders said a recent report shows that solar power could help make every state more energy independent if solar units were installed on available rooftop space, because every state can meet 10% or more of its electricity needs just through rooftop solar. Moreover, because solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt than other energy sources.
The legislation's cosponsors include Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).
Sanders' measure is patterned after successful state programs promoting solar energy in New Jersey and California, where prices have fallen as the number of solar units increased.