California Legislators ask Congress to Include Clean Energy in COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Facing soaring unemployment, ominous predictions for the 2020 wildfire season and the persistent threat of climate change, this week a bipartisan group of California State Legislators led by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) sent a joint letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) urging immediate economic recovery action around clean energy.

The joint letter — which is signed by nearly half of the California Legislature — urges the two House Leaders, who both represent the Golden State, to “take immediate steps to support the clean energy industry in the State of California,” including by extending and strengthening federal tax credits for clean energy technologies, continuing incentives for electric vehicles and extending residential and commercial tax incentives for energy efficiency.

The letter notes that the clean energy industry accounts for over 500,000 jobs in California, and argues that “[s]upporting this vital industry will protect hundreds of thousands of jobs, promote economic recovery, enhance our energy resiliency, help us respond to devastating wildfires, and is critical to California’s efforts to address climate change.”

“Investing in clean energy has a quadruple bottom-line for California,” said Gabriel, the lead author of the joint letter. “It will lead to faster economic recovery, lower energy bills, improved resiliency and cleaner air for folks across our state. We’re asking our federal partners — especially the Californians in leadership positions in the House of Representatives — to prioritize clean energy in the next round of economic recovery efforts.”

The letter notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the threats posed by wildfires and Public Safety Power Shutoffs and argues that the combination of Shelter in Place orders with prolonged blackouts could have devastating economic and public safety consequences. It further argues that clean energy technology, such as battery backup systems charged by solar energy, can keep the power on and critical enterprises functioning during such challenges.

“California is leading the nation in green technology development and jobs, showing that smart environmental policy can be smart economic policy,” said Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo). “However, for us to solidify the gains we have made and continue to grow, Congress must extend the investment tax credit so Californians can do what we do best: innovate, innovate, innovate.”

Dan Jacobsen, director of Environment California, a leading environmental group, applauded the letter. He added: “The pandemic has not slowed the danger of global warming. Restoring our clean energy workforce is key to protecting public health and staving off the worst impacts of climate change.”

“Clean energy, such as rooftop solar and batteries, are some of the most shovel ready projects around,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association. “With help from Congress, such as extending and expanding the investment tax credit, we can put people back to work right away and create jobs in every corner of the state and country.”

“A growing clean energy industry helps families on the front lines of climate change by lowering household energy bills, replacing polluting fossil fuels and creating good-paying careers with low barriers to entry,” said Elise Hunter, policy director at Grid Alternatives. “Extending the investment tax credit is an important tool for reducing the cost of solar and storage projects that has made it possible for GRID Alternatives to make solar technology and job training accessible to thousands of California’s low-income residents.”


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