First of all, we have to commend President Obama for even mentioning solar energy in Tuesday’s State of the Union speech. Considering that the post-Solyndra political landscape for solar is anything but friendly (read my take in the op-ed I wrote for The Washington Post), it can only be good news that the President isn’t backing down on clean energy. He’s still on board, and for that, we’re certainly grateful. In his address, he asked Congress to establish a “clean energy standard” for the nation’s utility companies. Given that this kind of standard is already on the books in most industrialized nations, it’s not an outlandish idea, and one that would certainly benefit renewable energy.

However, what is unclear is exactly what would count as clean. Most likely, nuclear, natural gas and maybe even cleaner coal plants would qualify, which would dilute the positive effects on greenhouse gas emissions that an increase in renewable energy would provide. We would urge lawmakers to consider giving renewables (solar, wind and geothermal) a significant advantage in any legislation regarding clean energy.

Another point that we were happy to see made was that the time has come to end taxpayer subsidies to oil companies. The oil and gas industry still enjoys these incentives long after the need for them has passed. As President Obama urged, it’s time to “doubledown on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising.”  An analysis in 2009 by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that we could create 300,000 new jobs if the US produces just 25 percent of the nation’s electricity with renewables by 2025. This kind of job growth just is not present in the oil industry.

One thing the President made clear; it is time to invest in solar energy. He won’t back down, and neither should we.

– Tony Clifford, Standard Solar CEO