Most of the policy decisions that impact our right to go solar are made at the state and local level. But this does not mean that the federal government can’t play a role as well. A new, bi-partisan coalition of members of Congress has joined together to fight for policies that support solar by forming the Congressional Solar Caucus.
The Solar Caucus’ co-founders are Illinois Democrat Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and South Carolina Republican Ralph Norman. Krisnamoorthi is the only member of Congress with a professional background in solar energy. He served as president of a solar technology research firm. He was also a co-founder of the research institute, InSPIRE. The organization provides solar training to inner-city students and veterans.
Krishnamoorthi and Norman hope to use the new caucus to maintain a robust R&D budget in the Department of Energy, harmonize regulations that might otherwise keep solar from expanding further, and ensure America’s workforce is prepared for the solar jobs of the future.
“Solar energy is an economically viable energy source,” Norman said. “It’s also a rapidly growing energy sector, providing thousands of new jobs in states like my home in South Carolina. Solar power is an industry with bipartisan support, and the membership of the Congressional Solar Caucus reflects that.”
Norman indicated that the caucus was supportive of both large-scale and rooftop solar. “More and more we are seeing consumers choose rooftop solar as a great, green way to cut down on their energy bill,” Norman said. “Additionally, large-scale utilities are investing as well, which are providing excellent job opportunities for my constituents in rural areas.”
“Nothing changes in Washington, D.C. without heightened engagement across the country, and this is the way it should be,” Krishnamoorthi said. “In order to convince legislators that they should focus on the benefits of renewable energy, we need to work with groups like Solar United Neighbors.”
To date, the caucus has brought members together with solar technology and policy experts. This has helped caucus members learn about the challenges and opportunities facing the sector. “The caucus intends to continue to hold these briefings, as well as develop bipartisan policy solutions to solve problems facing the industry,” Norman said.
Currently, the Solar Caucus has 14 members, with seven Democrats and seven Republicans. In addition to Reps. Norman and Krishnamoorthi, they include Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01); Jeff Duncan (SC-03); Carlos Curbelo (FL 26); Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08); John Curtis (UT-3); Mia Love (UT-4), and Democrats Debbie Dingell (MI-12); Matt Cartwright (PA-17); Brendan Boyle (PA-13); Paul Tonko (NY-20); Jacky Rosen (NV-03); Peter Welch (VT). Norman and Krishnamoorthi are eager to grow the caucus.