Harris announces largest single investment in US community solar power at Georgia plant
CLARIFICATION: The headline on this story was updated to reflect that the investment by Summit Ridge Energy is the largest ever single investment in community solar power.
Summit Ridge Energy, the largest U.S.-based solar energy company, will buy 2.5 million solar panels from Korean solar panel manufacturer Qcells, Vice President Harris announced Thursday at a Georgia Qcells facility.
Harris made the announcement while touring the company’s Dalton plant, one of two in the state where Qcells is set to expand operations. Investments at the two Georgia plants have been touted by the Biden administration as the largest single investment in community solar power.
Community solar is distinct from solar power in that it is produced off-site as opposed to at a home or business.
The Summit Ridge deal is projected to deploy about 1.2 gigawatts of solar power, an ambition Harris said “was made possible by investments that we made to expand American manufacturing and increase demand for clean energy.”
Harris’s office estimated the power produced by the order would generate enough electricity to power 140,000 households.
The Biden administration has set a lofty target of cutting U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030 relative to 2005 levels and has leaned heavily on promotion of renewables like solar and wind power and electric vehicles to meet the goal. The announcement followed similar news earlier this week from Kia, which said its 2024 electric SUV will be manufactured at its West Point, Georgia, facility.
However, the administration has recently faced strong criticism from the environmental lobby after Biden signed off on the Willow Project, a massive ConocoPhillips oil-drilling project in northwestern Alaska that the state’s congressional delegation aggressively lobbied for. Critics have called approval of the project, which would produce an estimated 180,000 barrels of oil a day once operational, antithetical to the administration’s emissions goals.
The domestic solar energy industry has vocally lobbied the Biden administration in recent months to drop a Commerce Department investigation of several southeast Asian manufacturers of solar panel components suspected of circumventing tariffs on Chinese imports.
The Solar Energies Industry Association, the primary trade group for the industry, has said the tariffs and the investigation itself could devastate American solar capacity.
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