SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm visited Savannah on Friday to push for the expansion of solar energy.
Ossoff and Granholm led a roundtable discussion with Mayor Van Johnson and industry leaders to discuss clean energy initiatives and jobs.
“This is about revitalizing American manufacturing and creating tens of thousands of jobs while we do it, and this is about America’s energy independence,” Ossoff said.
The Georgia senator has introduced the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act (SEMA) in attempt to increase the use of solar energy. The bill proposes to provide a tax credit to the solar manufacturing industry and prioritize domestic production to create more jobs.
“We can build these products and deploy these products to save our planet, to lower energy costs, create jobs and lead the world,” Ossoff said. “Georgia lead the country, the United States lead the world in clean energy.”
Across the country, just 3% of all energy used comes from solar, according to Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association. The goal is to increase usage to 30% by 2030. One of the goals of using solar energy is to create more clean energy and manufacturing jobs in the U.S., as well as reduce electricity costs for families.
“While it used to be that the fossil fuels were the cheapest, solar and wind have now become in many places cheaper than fossil fuels and that means a huge opportunity for people to save money.” Granholm said.
Another goal of using solar energy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy’s contribution to climate change.
“It’s coastal Georgia that’s seeing the more tropical storms, the increased storm surge and coastal flooding,” Ossoff said. “It’s coastal Georgia hit hardest by the impacts of climate change. This is about ending pollution.”
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said the city has made a commitment to help lead the way in enhancing solar energy. At the end of October, the city plans to introduce a pilot program for 22 city buildings to make the switch to clean energy. That includes parking garages, fire and police stations, community centers and the new Enmarket Arena.
“The United States can and should lead the world,” Johnson said. “Georgia should and can lead the United States, and Savannah and Coastal Georgia should and can lead Georgia. And we believe that we can make that happen and we’re gonna do that by leading, but at the same time leaving no one behind.”
Ossoff, Granholm and Johnson also visited Savannah’s SeaPoint Industrial Terminal Complex, a manufacturing and logistics hub, that’s home to a 1-megawatt solar installation.