WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris is set to announce an agreement for what the Biden administration calls the largest community solar effort in U.S. history, enough to power 140,000 homes and businesses.
Harris is visiting the Qcells solar panel factory outside Atlanta on Thursday. The South Korean company’s corporate parent, Hanwha Solutions Corp., said in January it would invest $2.5 billion to expand its U.S. solar manufacturing, including building another Georgia plant. Qcells projects it will supply about 30% of total U.S. solar panel demand by 2027, including making solar panel components usually manufactured outside the United States.
A deal to be announced Thursday calls for Qcells and Summit Ridge Energy of Virginia to deploy community solar projects capable of generating 1.2 gigawatts of electricity in Illinois, Maine and Maryland, senior administration officials said Wednesday. Community solar projects allow people to tap into solar power generated at a shared site rather than on individual rooftops and are a way for renters and those without access to rooftop solar panels to receive the benefits of clean energy.
Community solar results in an average of 10% in annual savings for customers, the White House said. The new plan will require the manufacturing of 2.5 million solar panels at Qcells' plant in Dalton, Georgia — the largest community solar order in American history, officials said.
The solar project is made possible by tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark climate and health law Congress approved last year.
White House officials touted the role of Georgia's two Democratic senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, in approving the climate law and pushing for provisions to boost solar. Those efforts are in contrast to the Republican House member who represents Dalton, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who voted against the climate law and wants to repeal parts of it, a senior official said Wednesday.
Greene, a conservative firebrand who appeared at a rally in New York to protest the arrest of former President Donald Trump, has sharply criticized the Inflation Reduction Act, especially a plan to hire 87,000 new IRS employees. Thousands of those hired will be armed agents, Greene said, a claim the IRS has strongly disputed.
Employees to be hired under the new law will not all be auditors and many will be replacing workers who are expected to quit or retire, the IRS said. Armed special agents make up a small sliver of the IRS workforce.
Greene has said she is “excited to have jobs” in her district from the Qcells plant.