June 1, 2011

Senators Introduce Bill to Jumpstart Solar Energy Market

Washington, DC – With families across the country struggling to keep up with rising energy costs, many homeowners are looking toward solar panels and other renewable energy systems for some relief. Unfortunately, the high upfront cost often prevents families from purchasing these systems. U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Mark Udall (D-CO) have introduced bipartisan legislation to address this problem by expanding the availability of renewable energy leasing programs.

“Renewable energy helps us with jobs, energy independence, and cleaner air,” said Whitehouse. “Creating more ways to lease renewable energy systems will help more families in Rhode Island and across the country lower their own energy costs, and help our nation rely less on foreign oil.”

“This will make it more cost-effective for Americans to have solar panels installed on their homes and for any extra solar power to be sold back to the electricity grid. Because it’s an insurance program with premiums, the Congressional Budget Office says the 10-year cost to taxpayers is zero,” said Alexander.

“The REAL Act is a creative, bipartisan solution to cutting the prohibitive costs of greening Colorado homes by offering wider leasing options for residential projects,” Udall said. “Making renewable energy more affordable for more Coloradans shifts our country’s reliance on fossil fuels toward cleaner sources that create lasting jobs within our state’s burgeoning renewable energy industry and pump dollars directly into our economy.”

One major barrier to the expansion of renewable energy leasing programs has been the lack of a well-established market for these leases. Interested parties are sometimes reluctant to invest in these programs because the value of the lease cannot be guaranteed.

The Renewable Energy Access through Leasing (REAL) Act would address this problem by allowing the Department of Energy to insure the value of the lease. This would help create a stable market for renewable energy system leases to residential customers, freeing up additional capital to invest in these programs. It would do so at zero cost to taxpayers, and would be paid for by charging premiums for companies to participate in the insurance program.

By eliminating market barriers to wide-spread leasing of solar and other renewable energy systems, the REAL Act will help more households share in the energy savings from these systems.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921