A new solar energy deal will bring power to 140,000 homes and businesses in 3 states : NPR
Olivia Ross/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP
WASHINGTON — Continuing its efforts to promote renewable energy, the Biden administration on Thursday announced what it says will be the largest community solar effort in US history, enough to power 140,000 homes and businesses in three states.
Vice President Kamala Harris announced the agreement during a visit to the Qcells solar panel factory outside Atlanta. The South Korean company’s corporate parent, Hanwha Solutions Corp., said in January it would invest $2.5 billion to expand its Dalton, Georgia plant and build another plant in nearby Cartersville . Qcells projects that it will supply approximately 30% of total US solar panel demand by 2027, including making solar panel components generally manufactured outside the US.
An agreement announced by Harris calls for Virginia-based Qcells and Summit Ridge Energy to deploy community solar projects capable of generating 1.2 gigawatts of electricity in Illinois, Maine and Maryland. Community solar projects allow people to harness solar energy generated on a shared site rather than on individual rooftops and are a way for renters and those without access to rooftop solar panels to receive the energy benefits clean
Community solar results in an average of 10% in annual savings for customers, the White House said. The new plan will require the manufacture of 2.5 million solar panels at the Qcells plant in Dalton, Georgia — the largest community solar order in American history, officials said.
The solar project is made possible by tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark climate and health bill Congress passed last year, Harris and other officials said.
“Since taking office, our administration has made the largest investment in solar energy in our nation’s history,” Harris said in a speech at the Qcells plant. “We’ve strengthened domestic supply chains to ensure America has reliable access to parts and materials to build a clean energy technology and economy. We’ve provided tax credits to encourage companies to buy domestically-made solar panels America. And we have invested billions more to build and expand factories like this one.”
The massive order from Summit Ridge Energy “was made possible by the investments we’ve made to expand American manufacturing and increase demand for clean energy,” Harris said. “There is a link there. When we talk about the relationship between supply and demand, it is real.”
Harris touted the role of Georgia’s two Democratic senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, in passing the climate bill and pushing for provisions to boost solar.
“Throughout our nation there are communities like Dalton – communities full of people with incredible ambition and aspiration – who just need an opportunity to show what they can do,” she said.
Harris did not name any political opponents, but White House officials contrasted Democratic efforts to promote clean energy with Republicans who unanimously opposed the climate law. The White House chose Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican who represents Dalton. Greene voted against the climate law and wants to repeal parts of it.
Greene, a conservative firebrand who appeared at a rally in New York to protest the arrest of former President Donald Trump, strongly criticized the Inflation Reduction Act, especially a plan to hire new IRS employees. Thousands of those hired will be armed agents, Greene said, a claim the IRS has vigorously disputed.
Employees to be hired under the new law will not all be auditors and many will be replacing workers who are expected to quit or retire, the IRS said. Armed special agents make up a small slice of the IRS workforce.
A spokesman for Greene did not respond to a request for comment. Greene previously said she is “excited to have jobs” in her district from the Qcells plant.