Solar Is Valuable Resource in Climate Action Plan

As the UN Climate Conference ended with a whimper last week, the U.S. continues to move forward in its attempts to curtail climate change.

President Obama this month issued an executive order establishing a task force of state and local officials to identify ways America can respond and be resilient to the effects of climate change. The order, along with Obama’s Climate Action Plan, is a positive step towards curbing the effects of climate change and reducing our nation’s carbon emissions.

Solar energy represents a massive opportunity to help meet the goals of the action plan, which are to cut carbon pollution in America, prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, lead international efforts to combat global climate change and prepare for its impacts.

Today, solar is one of the fastest-growing sources of new energy in the United States — last month, solar accounted for three-quarters of America’s new energy capacity!

More than 30 additional utility-scale, clean energy solar projects are under construction helping to reduce carbon emissions from power plants while putting thousands of electricians, steelworkers and laborers to work. These facilities, along with rooftop solar on homes, businesses and schools, will generate electricity for generations to come, reducing our nation’s carbon footprint in the long term. 

Across the nation, as we saw this week in Georgia, communities are already stepping up to defend their right to solar power.

Nine out of 10 Americans think we need to develop more solar — because they know how important a clean, healthy environment is for our children and our future.

Taking action on climate by boosting renewable energy is good for more than just the environment — it’s a win for the economy, too. American businesses know that solar is not only a good clean energy source, it is also a good value proposition. Day after day, businesses report they are adding more solar to their portfolios.

The cost of a solar system has dropped by nearly 40 percent over the past two years, making solar more affordable than ever.  And as solar continues to scale up, costs will continue to come down.

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Tom Kimbis is the Interim President of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the national trade organization for America’s solar energy industry. In addition to serving as Interim President, Tom serves as General Counsel of SEIA and heads relations between SEIA and the federal executive branch. He has been working in renewable energy since 2000, when he began supporting research, analysis, legislative, and planning efforts across all energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).In 2005, Tom created the Market Transformation effort within the Solar Energy Technologies Program (SETP) at DOE to help technologies cross the chasm from R&D to commercialization. He served as Director of Market Transformation through 2009, when he began service as Acting Program Manager, managing the entire $170 million solar energy program of the United States. While at DOE, Tom was a founder of the Solar America Initiative, a billion-dollar effort to accelerate solar commercialization. He led the creation of the Solar America Cities program, a DOE partnership with U.S. cities to develop innovative methods for the adoption of solar energy technologies.Prior to his work in solar, Tom headed a DOE legislative team, founded a real estate investment firm, and practiced litigation for a multinational law firm. He served for six years as Chairman of The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit promoting the increased use of solar energy through education and research. He earned his B.A. from Williams College and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.

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