Sen. Cortez Masto leads bill to expand US solar manufacturing

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 7:27 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Could Washington be gearing up to invest more in solar energy? Some are more energetic about the idea.

Democrats in Washington are calling for the U.S. to have a bigger role in the supply chain of solar panels. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) wants our country to have a larger solar footprint.

“We also need to make sure that the components for those solar projects are now manufactured in the United States,” said the senator.

So, Sen. Cortez Masto has introduced a bill that gives $3 billion in grants and loans over a five-year period for new construction of solar facilities and upgrades to existing sites.

“This legislation adds to the work that I’ve already done to actually focus on bringing the supply chain for solar back to the United States,” she said.

Cortez Masto said the legislation will also create good-paying union jobs because, for a company to get money for their plants, they need to have strong protections for workers in place.

That is something SAFE, a nonpartisan energy security organization, supports.

“If the U.S. and different countries can commit to sourcing raw materials and solar panel components and other technology components from countries with high standards, we’ll really level the playing field in this next re-industrialization that we’re going through right now for the energy transition,” said Danielle Woodring, Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs of the Ambassador Alfred Hoffman, Jr. Center for Critical Minerals Strategy at SAFE.

Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation’s Diana Furchgott-Roth thinks the U.S. has invested enough in the energy sector. She also said the global emissions issue cannot be eliminated if we are the biggest country doing anything about it.

“Taking United States energy intensive manufacturing and power generation and moving it over to China just displaces emissions. It doesn’t reduce them at all,” said Furchgott-Roth, Director of the Center for Energy, Climate and Environment at the Heritage Foundation.

Cortez Masto has introduced this bill in the past, but it never made it to the House floor. It is sitting in the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.