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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States

Letter

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Letter to The Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States

As Congress Looks to Help Jumpstart Job Creation, Bennet Urges President, Senate Leadership to Consider Solar Manufacturing Bill

Bennet, Menendez, Stabenow, Wyden and Gillibrand Tout Job Creation Benefits of Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act

With Congress and the White House examining how to help create additional jobs, the Senate sponsors of new solar power manufacturing legislation are asking President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid to take their bill into consideration.

The bill's sponsor, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), along with its lead co-sponsors, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), today sent letters to the President and Majority Leader urging them to take up the Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act (S.2755).

Currently, a 30 percent Solar Investment Tax Credit (SITC) exists for the purchase or installation of solar power technology. Under this bill, equipment and facilities used to manufacture solar power technology would be added to the eligible property list for the SITC.

In their letter, the senators cite projections that, in 2010 alone, their legislation would create nearly 7,200 jobs in solar energy manufacturing, in addition to 2,700 construction jobs to build new plants. The senators also point out that the United States has fallen far behind countries like China in the manufacturing of solar power technology.

"While the recovery package has been a good start, there is more we can do to create jobs while positioning the United States as the leader in the technology that will power the 21st century global economy. It is with considerable dismay that we note that the United States is falling behind other countries in this critical competition," wrote the senators. "As our economy recovers, ensuring that job creation happens as soon as possible is our highest priority. As we proceed, let us take advantage of this opportunity to position our nation as the clean energy leader for the 21st century. Our legislation would move us in that direction.

Farhad Moghadam President and CEO of Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. said: "Ascent Solar has developed state of the art roll-to-roll thin film deposition process to make very unique Solar modules. Our manufacturing plants are primarily dependent on very high capital expenditure and low operating costs. This kind of business model requires easy access to capital, high tax incentives and skilled manpower. We support the effort of Senator Bennet in sponsoring this bill to help Colorado and the nation regain prominence in high-tech manufacturing and create jobs in the New Energy Economy."

Background on solar manufacturing and the legislation:

The U.S. is losing the global race for solar technology and manufacturing jobs.

* A decade ago, the U.S. produced more than 40% of the word's solar photovoltaic (PV) cells.
* In 2008, the U.S. produced only 5% of the world's solar cells.

The Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act will spur growth and create jobs.

* Solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt of energy produced than any other form of energy.
* The impact would be immediate with firms having an incentive to make their investments early in order to capitalize on the refundable credit.

Other countries are providing incentives to attract solar manufacturing jobs.

* Malaysia: 15-year income tax holiday.
* Philippines: 6-year income tax holiday.
* Germany: Grants of 30% of investment costs for large enterprises (40%-50% for small/medium enterprises).

ARRA is a great start, but not enough to keep solar manufacturing in the U.S.

* The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) included a competitive tax credit capped at $2.3 billion for advanced energy manufacturing projects (new code Section 48C).
* The credit is a good start to increase domestic solar manufacturing; however:
o Investment decisions are delayed because firms must apply and be certified for the credit.
o The cap will cause the program to likely sunset after the first round of applications.

Below is the full text of the letter:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As you work with Congress to craft legislation that will spur job creation, we urge you to consider legislation that will not only create jobs but also set the stage for our long-term prosperity. To that end, we recently introduced the Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act to encourage investment in America's solar energy manufacturing industry, which will create jobs, make us more energy secure, and reduce global warming pollution. We know that you share these goals, so we wish to work with you to include this legislation in any jobs or clean energy bill that Congress considers in the near future.

The Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act builds on the progress toward clean energy that was marked by the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The recovery package invested more than $45 billion in programs and more than $21 billion in tax incentives to initiate a transition to a clean energy economy.

While the recovery package has been a good start, there is more we can do to create jobs while positioning the United States as the leader in the technology that will power the 21st century global economy. It is with considerable dismay that we note that the United States is falling behind other countries in this critical competition. For example, a decade ago the United States accounted for more than 40% of the world's solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, but in 2008 we produced just 5% of the world's PV cells. Countries like China, Germany, and Japan are leading the way in attracting private capital by establishing powerful incentives for investing in solar manufacturing. It is time for those technologies and the jobs that accompany them to be found right here in America.

Our legislation would create jobs here at home while setting the stage for economic growth for decades to come. It would make investments in equipment used to manufacture solar energy technology eligible for the existing 30 percent tax credit for installation of residential and business solar energy systems. The tax credit will spur investment in solar energy, which creates more jobs per megawatt of energy produced than any other form of energy. What's more, the impact of the legislation would be immediate, with firms having an incentive to make their investments early in order to capitalize on the refundable credit. For these reasons, in 2010 alone our legislation is projected to create nearly 7,200 jobs in solar energy manufacturing and 2,700 construction jobs to build new plants, yielding nearly 9,990 direct jobs created. The figure increases to 12,000 jobs when indirect jobs at upstream suppliers are included. As solar firms create jobs and innovate, so will America move forward as the global leader in clean energy technology, improving our energy security while combating global warming.

As our economy recovers, ensuring that job creation happens as soon as possible is our highest priority. As we proceed, let us take advantage of this opportunity to position our nation as the clean energy leader for the 21st century. Our legislation would move us in that direction. Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working together to create jobs and set the stage for America's long-term economic leadership.

Sincerely,

ROBERT MENENDEZ DEBBIE STABENOW
United States Senator United States Senator

MICHAEL F. BENNET RON WYDEN
United States Senator United States Senator

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND
United States Senator


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