Olivia Ross / Chattanooga Times Press via AP
WASHINGTON – Continuing efforts to promote renewable energy, the Biden administration on Thursday announced what it says is the largest community solar effort in US history, powering 140,000 homes and businesses in three states.
Vice President Kamala Harris announced the deal during a visit to the Qcells solar panel factory outside Atlanta. The company’s South Korean parent company, Hanwha Solutions Corp., said in January it would invest $2.5 billion to expand its Dalton, Georgia plant and build another plant in nearby Cartersville. Qcells projects it will supply approximately 30% of total US solar panel demand by 2027, including components for solar panels generally manufactured outside the United States.
The deal announced by Harris calls for Qcells and Virginia-based Summit Ridge Energy to open a community solar project capable of generating 1.2 gigawatts of electricity in Illinois, Maine and Maryland. Community solar projects allow people to tap into solar power on a common site rather than on individual rooftops that allow people and renters to get the benefits of clean energy alone without access to the panels.
Community solar results in an average of 10% in annual savings for customers, the White House said. The new plan will require the manufacturing of 2.5 million solar panels at Qcells’ plant in Dalton, Georgia, the largest community solar array in American history, officials said.
The solar plan could be made possible by credits in the Growth Reduction Act, which limits the air and health care law Congress approved last year, Harris and other officials said.
“Since taking office, our administration has made the largest investment in solar energy in our nation’s history,” Harris said in a speech at the Qcells plant. “We’ve strengthened domestic supply chains to ensure America has reliable access to parts and materials to build clean energy and technology. We’ve provided tax credits to encourage companies to buy American-made solar panels. And we’ve invested billions more to build and expand factories like this one. ‘
A huge order through Summit Ridge Energy “can be made through the investments we’ve made to increase American manufacturing and increase demand for clean energy,” Harris said, “there’s a connection there. When we talk about the relationship between supply and demand, it’s true.”
Harris campaigned for Georgia’s two Democratic senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, to pass the climate bill and push for a solar boost.
“All across our nation there are communities like Dalton’s — communities of people full of incredible ambition and appetite — that just need an opportunity to do what they can,” he said.
Harris did not name his public opponents, but White House Democratic officials were competing to promote clean energy with Republicans, who unanimously opposed the climate bill. White House to hit Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican who represents Dalton. Greene voted against climate change legislation and wants to repeal parts of it.
Greene, a conservative firebrand who appeared at a rally in New York to protest the arrest of former President Donald Trump, sharply criticized the inflation-reduction act, especially the plan to hire new IRS employees. Thousands of those employees will be armed with agents, Greene said, in a highly disputed IRS request.
Not all employers hired under the new law will be auditors and many will be replacing workers who are retiring or considering quitting, the IRS said. Armed special agents make a small dent in the IRS workforce.
A spokesman for Greene did not respond to a request for comment. Greene previously said he was “excited to have jobs” in his territory about the Qcells plant.