Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., chairman of the Senate’s green jobs subcommittee, introduced legislation with nine cosponsors to encourage the installation of 10 million solar-power systems on the rooftops of homes and businesses over the next decade.

At a Senate committee hearing in March, Sanders questioned Energy Secretary Steven Chu about President Obama’s budget for next year. The White House requested $2.4 billion for energy-efficiency and renewable-energy programs. The requested 5 percent boost overall included a 22 percent increase for solar power.

Sanders’ bill would authorize rebates, which, along with other incentives, would cover up to half the cost of the 10 million solar-power systems and 200,000 water heating systems. Nonprofit groups and state and local governments also would be eligible. The legislation would ensure that participating homeowners and businesses also receive information on incentives to improve energy efficiency.

The legislation’s cosponsors include Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa.; and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

Sanders said the measure is patterned after successful state programs promoting solar energy in California and New Jersey, where prices have fallen as the number of solar units increased.
The bill is available online at www.sanders.senate.gov.