This week’s mid-term elections saw a dramatic but somewhat anticipated shift across the nation to a more conservative political nature. During campaign season many conservatives espoused support for fossil fuel projects like the Keystone tar sands pipeline or drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They didn’t—at least at the federal level—largely express support for renewable energy like wind and solar. Now that the Senate will be led by Republicans and they have expanded their gains in the House it could be a more perilous time for solar than any time since President Obama was elected.
The Solar Energy Industries Association is advising its member companies to work with SEIA to support pro-solar initiatives like renewing the federal Investment Tax Credit and local net-metering policies. “The biggest implication of a Republican Senate majority for the solar industry is that Sen. Harry Reid [D-NV] will likely be the minority leader in the new Senate, and will no longer set the legislative agenda as the Senate majority leader,” SEIA said, adding that he was solar’s biggest champion in the Senate.
Solar has gained a strong foothold with solar accounting for tens of thousands of jobs across the U.S. But new policies or attempts to change current policies could imperil the industry. Still, SEIA acknowledges that it has some options.
“It’s time for the solar industry to unite and for Washington to change the way it does business,” wrote SEIA President Rhone Resch in an email to members. “With widespread voter dissatisfaction evident in Tuesday’s national and state elections, we need a new approach—and a more collaborative approach—when it comes to solving many of our nation’s pressing problems.”
Resch observed that SEIA has more than 1,000 member companies across the U.S. “We remain completely committed to finding common sense ways to create new jobs, stimulate economic development, remove market barriers and improve our nation’s energy security. With the elections now behind us, it’s critically important for our leaders in Washington, as well as our state capitals, to put aside their differences and work together to find real solutions that will grow our economy and put more people to work,” he said.
SEIA said that more than six Republican Senators in states with strong solar industries are up for re-election in 2016. It advocated solar companies talking with their Senators and Representatives to educate them about the jobs opportunities brought by solar companies in their districts.
Resch also made a key point: “As pundits analyze the results of Tuesday’s elections, here is one important mandate to remember: Polls consistently show that 9 out of 10 Americans want to see an expanded use of solar energy nationwide,” he said. “We stand ready to work with Congress, our nation’s governors and state legislatures to make that a reality.”Tweet