Solar power leaders back EPA climate rule

Business leaders in the solar power industry have endorsed the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon rule proposal for power plants.

The letter was organized by Environment America and included leaders from business group Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and private-sector companies like solar panel maker SunEdison and financing marketplace EnergySage Inc.

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“As solar power installers, manufacturers, designers, aggregators, product suppliers, and consultants, we welcome the unveiling of the Clean Power Plan,” the more than 500 industry leaders wrote in the letter, which they sent to the White House Thursday

“This plan is a critical step toward transforming our energy system to one that protects our health and environment, and that of our children,” they said.

Solar power accounts for less than 1 percent of electricity generation in the United States, according to the Energy Information Administration. In total, renewable energy sources other than hydropower accounted for 6 percent of electricity in 2013.

But the EPA predicted that its June proposal to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030 would double the use of non-hydropower renewables, such as solar, wind and geothermal energy, to 12 percent.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said Wednesday that the EPA could probably double that target.

“As the nation’s fastest growing source of renewable energy, solar can play a major role in meeting our nation’s energy and environmental challenges,” the industry leaders wrote in their letter.

They said solar energy employs 143,000 people in the United States in 6,100 businesses, showing the economic potential of expanding solar.