During his State of the Union address last month, President Obama proposed building 20 million solar installations nationwide by 2020 — double the target of Sanders' initiative — although the SunShot doesn't address that goal and Kann said the president's speech was void of the nuts and bolts of policies to get there.
The Ten Million Solar Roofs Act would require $250 million in investments in fiscal year 2012 and an additional $500 million per year from 2013 to 2021. A competitive grant program would help state and local governments boost solar energy deployment in homes, schools and businesses by overcoming barriers such as high expenses and red tape.
By linking his bill with SunShot, and positioning the act as an integral part of the cost-cutting initiative, Sanders is hoping to win new support in Congress. Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) introduced companion legislation last session in the House, and is expected to do the same this year.
Cutting Government 'Green' Tape
Will Wiquist, a spokesperson for Sanders, told SolveClimate News that the senator's legislation would potentially adapt to include SunShot's focus on creating a more efficient solar-permitting process for home installations.
He cited by solar financing company , which estimates that local inspection and permitting fees can add up to $2,500 to the cost of each residential photovoltaic (PV) solar system.
"The solar industry report recommended a competitive grant program to encourage adoption of best practices, an idea which can be incorporated into the Ten Million Solar Roofs legislation to support Secretary Chu's goal of making solar competitive with fossil fuels by the end of the decade," Wiquist said.
Kann said that SunShot is likely to receive a more immediate push from the Obama administration because it is a DOE initiative, whereas the Ten Million Solar Roofs legislation could be slow to wend its way through Congress.
However, he added, SunShot alone cannot achieve its target of reducing solar electricity costs by 75 percent.
"You can't just do it with one program, especially when that one program is designed heavily around R&D. There has to be some kind of deployment program as well, whether it is the Ten Million Solar Roofs Act or something similar," he said.
According to , the U.S. placed fourth in solar PV installations in 2009, behind Germany, Italy, and Japan. The country produces 6 percent of solar system components worldwide, while China accounts for seven of the top 10 solar manufacturers worldwide.