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Here comes the sun: Increasing incentives for solar energy

Here comes the sun: Increasing incentives for solar energy(By Marian Hopkins, Business Roundtable via TreeHugger)The sun accounts for nearly 99 percent of the mass of our solar system,

provides heat and light to the eight planets and is responsible for all

life on Earth, sustaining billions of plants and animals with its rays,

while also driving our planet’s climate and weather patterns.It is, bar none, the most powerful force we have ever known. And today, we

are closer than ever to unlocking its potential to help tackle our nation’s

energy and sustainability challenges.Business Roundtable has long been an advocate for increasing the role of

renewable energy in America’s power generation mix. In fact, we recently

released an economic modeling study that advocated for renewable power

investment – including solar – as a critical pathway to enhancing the

efficiency of a carbon pricing mechanism, as called for in the American

Clean Energy and Security Act now making its way through the Senate. This

bill provides a good vehicle for policymakers in Washington, D.C. to build

on the investments in the recently passed stimulus package, which contained

billions of dollars in tax and loan incentives to advance solar energy in

the United States, including a consumer tax credit for the purchase of

solar water heating equipment, appropriations for the installation of solar

energy technology on federal buildings, federal dollars for energy

efficiency and renewable energy research and bonds to finance solar energy

facilities.These are all positive steps forward and we urge policymakers to continue

making these critical investments in solar and renewable energy

technologies to help America achieve a balanced energy portfolio and a more

diverse fuel mix. Not only does it make sense from the perspective of our

nation’s energy security and environmental conservation, it also makes

economic sense: implementing these technologies will create “green jobs”

that can help reduce unemployment and accelerate economic recovery.The members of Business Roundtable understand this. They have been, and

continue to be, out in front on solar energy and other renewables, creating

jobs and promoting cleaner, greener technology. For instance:AT&T recently installed nearly 3,700 solar panels at its facility in San

Ramon, California, which provide up to a quarter of the plant’s energy;Dow

is investing more than $100 million in research and development for solar

photovoltaic building materials that could revolutionize the way we power

our homes;FedEx recently installed solar equipment that help avoid nearly

2.9 million pounds of carbon emissions every year, and is currently

installing another facility that will nearly double its production of

renewable energy; andFPL Group is America’s leading producer of renewable

solar energy, operating the largest solar thermal facilities in the world

with enough capacity to power more than 230,000 homes with emissions-free

electricity.Clearly, both U.S. businesses and policymakers cannot afford to ignore this

precious, abundant resource. The power of solar energy can take our nation

one step closer to a more sustainable and prosperous future. The bottom

line is, when it comes to increasing energy security, combating the effects

of global climate change and enhancing economic recovery, it’s important

for our nation to explore all avenues and press forward with a variety of

traditional and renewable energy technologies – including solar.For the very latest solar jobs globally please click here