Oct 22, 2009
Today the House passed the H.R. 3585, Solar Technology Roadmap Act, H.R. 3585, to strengthen the American solar technology industry through a coordinated research and development program and public-private partnerships. Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) was able to include provisions in the bill that will help protect against solar panel theft, which has become a huge problem that costs local communities and law enforcement time and money.
“Local law enforcement officials brought this problem to my attention when a rash of solar panel thefts occurred in our district,” said Congressman Thompson. “There is no central database that collects serial numbers, or helps law enforcement track the location of installed panels. My provisions will fix these problems, so that people who’ve made a good investment in solar technology will be adequately protected in the case of theft.”
Thompson’s provisions will require the Secretary of Energy to create a plan to protect against solar theft. This plan will include a map database of large scale solar projects, to help law enforcement track missing panels, and create equipment serial number registries that will be easily accessible.
“The Napa County agricultural community has been victimized repeatedly over the last year by the theft of solar panels,” said Sheriff Doug Koford. “The monetary value of the theft is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but this pales in comparison to the victimization of a community that is trying to do the right thing environmentally. The Napa County Sheriff’s Office is diligently working with our local growers, farmers, residents, allied law enforcement agencies, and energy providers, to combat this spreading crime trend. We appreciate Congressman Thompson’s responsiveness, to make sure this issue is addressed back in Washington as well.”
The legislation also requires the Secretary to select a group of experts from industry, academia, and government researchers to develop a long-term roadmap to guide solar energy research. The Roadmap Committee, at least one-third of which must come from the private sector, would identify the research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities needed to improve the performance and reliability of solar technologies, decrease cost, and reduce water use. This bill also authorizes over $2 billion to new research partnerships and demonstration projects for solar energy technologies.
Congressman Thompson successfully included investments in solar technology in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed into law in February. Under Thompson’s provisions, state and local governments are able to more easily finance the purchase of solar systems and have access to $2.4 billion in new energy conservation bonds to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Congressman Thompson also authored key provisions to establish a new investment tax credit for facilities to manufacture green technologies in America rather than shipping those manufacturing jobs overseas. Additionally, the Thompson provisions provide grants to incentivize businesses to invest in renewable technology.