ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The national mandate to use solar electricity combined with policies to support new electric grid transmission projects and a "green bank" to finance renewable energy projects are on the wish list of the solar industry for the climate change legislation, said Rhone Resch, executive director of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Speaking at the Solar Power International conference in Anaheim, a conference SEIA co-organized, Resch outlined his lobbying goals while extolling his roughly 1,000 members to pony up.
"My message to you is simple and urgent: We are standing at a crossroads," Resch said at the opening of the conference, the largest solar industry gathering in the United States. "When it comes to engaging into a major policy battle ahead, we face a choice right here right now. There are two alternatives: Go big or go home."
He threw out numbers to make his point: The coal industry is spending $50 million while the oil and gas industries is forking over $100 million this year on lobbying, public relations and advertising efforts, Resch said.
The solar industry hasn't spent a dime on similar campaigns, yet it's the target of some of these efforts to gut renewable energy-friendly policies, he added.
Resch noted that the oil industry gave $22 million to political candidates in 2008 while the utilities put up $21 million. The solar industry contributed $138,000.
His plea for financial support came on the same day when the U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee began its revision of a climate change bill unveiled by Sens. John Kerry and Barbara Boxer last month.
The version presented by the two senators was similar to the one passed by the House in June this year. But the Senate version is setting a more aggressive emissions reduction goals. It also lacks key details, such as how the emissions allowances would be distributed, that the committee will fill before moving the bill forward.
Resch said he's pushing the lawmakers to require 25 percent of the nation's electricity supply to come from renewable sources by 2025, and he wants provisions to guarantee growth for solar.
The industry group is also lobbying for giving 10 percent of carbon credits to states for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Other issues that are dear to the group: the creation of the Clean Energy Deployment Administration to help finance renewable energy projects, and policies to streamline the planning and permitting process for transmission projects.