Lawmakers want more solar manufacturing to happen in US

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solar panels in an array in Ohio in the winter

Congressmen from Pennsylvania and Ohio are pushing for more solar panel manufacturing to take place domestically. 

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, of Pennsylvania, announced the Solar Supply Chain Act Sept. 27. The bill would invest $700 million annually over the next four years to expand domestic solar component manufacturing. It would give money to companies to build new facilities that produce solar components and to expand or retrofit existing facilities.

The next day, U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, of Ohio, and Dan Kildee, of Michigan, introduced the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act to provide tax credits for American solar component manufacturers. 

Most of the solar panels in the U.S. are imported, primarily from China, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as are many of the other components.

“We cannot allow China to win the economies of the future,” Ryan said, in a statement. “Unfortunately right now they are leading the solar panel industry, but that can change. America has the best workforce in the world, but it is our job to make sure they are competing on a level playing field.”

Ryan’s legislation is cosponsored by Democratic Reps. Brad Schneider, of Illinois, Carolyn Bourdeaux, of Georgia, Raja Krishnamoorthi, of Illinois, Emanuel Cleaver, of Missouri, Brian Higgins, of New York, Eric Swalwell, of California, 

Doyle’s bill is cosponsored by Democratic Reps. Val Demings, of Florida, Debbie Dingell, of Michigan, and Elissa Slotkin, of Michigan. Both pieces of legislation were endorsed by environmental groups and renewable energy groups.

The lawmakers’ focus on solar component manufacturing came weeks after the Biden administration outlined a plan for solar energy to supply nearly half the nation’s electricity by 2050. 

Right now, solar power makes up about 2% of utility-scale energy generation nationally, but solar has been growing steadily in the past several years. The Solar Energy Industries Association put out a report earlier this year showing the industry is expected to quadruple its electric generation capacity over the next decade.

The largest domestic manufacturer of solar panels is located in Ohio. First Solar recently broke ground on its third plant in the Toledo area.

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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