Congressional Conferees debating current energy legislation released draft legislative language that would authorize a new program to install 20,000 solar energy systems in Federal Buildings by the year 2010.Washington, D.C. – September 25, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “This is precisely the kind of forward-thinking legislation that our country needs right now,” said Glenn Hamer, Solar Energy Industry Association’s (SEIA) Executive Director. “Senator Domenici and Congressmen Tauzin and Barton deserve great credit for including such a historic provision that will deploy clean, renewable energy systems across our nation. Let this put to rest the fiction that this bill will be unfriendly to renewable energy.” In the draft language, released this week, Congressional Conferees included authorization for US$300 million over five years to establish a solar photovoltaic (PV) energy program for the procurement and installation of solar electric systems in new and existing public buildings. “Solar power on federal buildings makes sense for a number of reasons,” Hamer said. “It will save taxpayers money. It will clean our air. It will give federal buildings power that will survive any future grid failures. And it will create high-quality manufacturing jobs here in America. We urge the Conferees to keep this innovative provision in the final energy package.” The Sustainable Energy Association’s Ken Bossong, isn’t quite as chipper. He pointed out the distinction between an actual appropriation versus an authorization. “That’s a very nice gesture but has no meaning unless it’s backed up by money,” Bossong said. “It’s encouraging but there is no substance at this point.” Bossong drew a comparision between this authorization and President Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation which is often criticized as an unfunded mandate. Without actual funds appropriated for this program, it could be an empty promise, Bossong said. The House energy bill included a program to install solar systems on federal buildings, based on an amendment by Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN). Hamer testified in support of the Oberstar bill back in August, 2001 (see links below). “While important solar tax incentive provisions are still being crafted, this is a powerful sign that the final energy package will be one we can enthusiastically support,” Hamer said.