as prepared for delivery
Madame Speaker, I am pleased that today we are considering H.R. 3585, the Solar Technology Roadmap Act, sponsored by Science and Technology Subcommittee Chair Gabrielle Giffords. This bipartisan bill has 32 co-sponsors including myself and Subcommittee Chairs Brian Baird and Dan Lipinski, as well as Committee Members Michael McCaul and Roscoe Bartlett.
If solar power isn’t the first thing you think of when I talk about Tennessee, I’ll forgive you. But over the last few years we’ve really seen first-hand the major potential that solar energy has to create new jobs across the country and reduce our dependence on foreign oil in the process.
Recently, two major producers of special materials used in solar panels have chosen Clarksville and Cleveland, Tennessee as the sites for their next large factories. Under Governor Phil Bredesen’s leadership, we’ve also pooled our top talent from the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Tennessee Valley Authority to start the Tennessee Solar Institute, which will conduct a wide range of activities to make solar panels more efficient and cost effective.
But given the massive amount of solar energy resources our country’s been blessed with and the technical challenges we still need to overcome, Tennessee can’t be expected to tackle this alone. That’s why we need a national plan, and that’s why we are discussing this important bill today.
H.R. 3585 establishes a comprehensive roadmapping process for solar technology research, development, and demonstration activities conducted by the federal government in partnership with industry. The Secretary of Energy is also directed to award grants to carry out these programs on a merit-reviewed basis, and specifically to provide awards to industry-led consortia for RD&D in solar manufacturing.
The roadmap provision in the bill is modeled on the successful National Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, which has been instrumental in helping semiconductor technology advance rapidly over the past two decades.
H.R. 3585 incorporates recommendations of the witnesses who appeared at Science and Technology Committee hearings, as well as input from a variety of academic, government, and industry experts.
Science and Technology Committee staff closely consulted with the Minority in the development of this bill. We accepted 4 Minority amendments and 3 Majority amendments in all, and the vast majority of items in our manager’s amendment in Committee were also suggested or requested by the Minority. The bill was recommended out of Committee on a voice vote.
H.R. 3585 has been officially endorsed by [the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,] the National Association of Manufacturers, the Solar Energy Industries Association, BP, IBM, Intel, and National Semiconductor.
I look forward to voting for several good amendments today, and strongly urge my colleagues here to support a bill that will clearly help take back our leadership in this fast-growing industry and put our best minds to work to meet our future energy needs.