Amid COVID-19 Crisis, Sarbanes Calls on Trump Administration to End Cuts to Solar Energy Initiatives and Help Americans Lower Electricity Bills [Video]

At House Energy Subcommittee Hearing, Congressman Sarbanes Urged the Trump-Led Department of Energy to Help Americans Save Money and Reduce Emissions by Expanding Solar Energy Capacity
July 14, 2020
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a House Energy Subcommittee hearing today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) urged U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Dan Brouillette to end the Trump Administration’s misguided assault on clean energy and increase its investment in proven solutions, like solar energy, to help Americans lower electricity costs, reduce carbon emissions, save money and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Obviously, this pandemic has had a profound effect on the economy,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “And as we look to stimulate the economy moving forward and recover, we can build on an economy that’s more equitable, more resilient and promotes a cleaner and healthier future for our communities…. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has been a smart return on investment for taxpayers – a net benefit, I think, of about $230 billion – and particularly for low-income families, these kinds of programs in EERE … allow low-income communities to reduce energy consumption, which also saves money.”

Sarbanes continued: “In fact, the [American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy] has found that for families living in large cities, the average low-income household’s energy burden was more than three times as high as that of non-low-income households – 7 percent compared with about 2 percent for their wealthier counterparts. And certainly during this time of economic instability, reducing that energy burden and cost savings is one way that we can help those communities move forward.”

Sarbanes concluded: “Secretary Brouillette, in your testimony, you mentioned the Administration’s support for solar [energy] in the portfolio, but I have to say that the Administration’s budget doesn’t reflect that support. There was a proposed cut of over 70 percent to the EERE in the Solar Energy Technologies Office, which we tried to reverse – I’m pleased to say – in the House…. But in the face of such economic uncertainty, I would hope that we could count on DOE to promote solar energy, which has all of these benefits that are related to the workforce, the cost to consumers and so forth. I feel this particularly because in Baltimore we’ve worked in the past with the Department of Energy to bring this potential to low-income homeowners through a program called Baltimore Shines, and it would allow all communities to take advantage of low-cost solar energy.”

In 2016, Congressman Sarbanes led a cutting-edge initiative – Baltimore Shines – with  the U.S. Department of Energy, the Maryland Clean Energy Center and the City of Baltimore to help homeowners in Baltimore install solar panels and improve the weatherization of their homes. The program also supported job training for unemployed or underemployed community members to become a part of the clean energy workforce.

See below for the Congressman’s full remarks.