When Hillary Clinton made her ambitious plan to install more than a half billion solar panels—about 140 GW of solar—my ears perked up. My first thought was, “Wow.” My second thought was: “We’re gonna need a bigger team.”Right now, the United States has 21 GW installed, so Clinton’s plan would increase the amount of solar-generated power seven-fold. Under current policies, GTM Research says the industry will grow a modest threefold.
So how does Clinton plan to double current projections?
Well, if we’re being honest, the details of the plan are a little thin. But she’s the first candidate I’ve heard discuss the investment tax credit (ITC)—a personal crusade of mine—intelligently. She has promised to rally Congress and get an extension. To wit:
Tax Incentives: Fight to extend federal clean energy incentives and make them more cost effective both for taxpayers and clean energy producers.
That would obviously include the ITC.
Now there’s one little hiccup in the plan, which is that Clinton wouldn’t take office until 20 or so days after the ITC expires on Dec. 31, 2016. But she is not without influence and might be able to twist just enough arms to get it through Congress. And if she’s elected and her coattails are long enough, Congress could change hands and make it permanent.
(Hey, hey, hey, no laughing—I am a man with a dream, and you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.)
Clinton has also proposed something called a “Clean Energy Challenge (CEC)” to encourage state and local governments to move to clean-energy sources—a good number of whom will choose solar. Like the rest of the plan, it’s a little thin on details, but I like the way she thinks.
If you combine an ITC extension, President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (which I’ve written about elsewhere and that Clinton has pledged to support), the CEC and other expanded federal support mechanisms, there’s an excellent chance this “crazy” idea of hers just might work.
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