U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited the state where she was governor for eight years Friday to promote clean energy and energy independence.
Granholm, a Democrat who served as Michigan governor from 2003-11, toured the Hemlock Semiconductor plant with U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, after which they both spoke and answered questions from media members for about 20 minutes.
Hemlock Semiconductor (HSC), about 20 miles southeast of Downtown Midland, is the largest American producer of polysilicon, which is used in the manufacturing of solar cells, among other products. Granholm and Kildee also toured battery manufacturer XALT Energy in Midland earlier Friday morning.
Kildee is the main sponsor of a bill introduced last September in the U.S. House called the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, which would provide tax credits for U.S. manufacturers at every stage of the solar manufacturing supply chain. A similar bill has been introduced by Georgia’s two Democratic senators in the Senate.
Kildee and Granholm laid out what they see as urgent reasons for the bill to be passed, especially in light of President Joe Biden’s recent decision to discontinue importing oil from Russia due to its invasion of and ongoing war with Ukraine.
“According to the Department of Energy, half of our electricity by the year 2050 could come from solar energy,” Kildee said to a gathering of media and HSC employees. “This will save money, and it’s good for the planet.
“Now is the time for us to invest in energy independence,” Kildee continued, referring to the Russia-Ukraine war. ” … We have to choose this future, and make it happen.”
Granholm then took the podium and said that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by Congress last November will help bring supply chains for solar energy back to Michigan, and the Solar Energy Manufacturing bill will take things a step further.
“If we take this next step, the sky’s the limit,” Granholm said. “We have great hope that we’re going to get this (bill) through Congress.”
When asked how lawmakers from both parties can be convinced to support the solar energy legislation, Granholm commented: People respond to price. As an illustration, Granholm said she drives an electric car that she figures would cost $65 to fill with gas at current prices, but costs only $12 for her to charge in her garage, where she has solar panels that generate electricity.
“Money talks. Regardless of political stripes, people can agree on something like this,” she said.
Granholm said Biden has set a goal for the U.S. to use 100% clean energy by 2050.
“Solar is the cheapest form of energy. It’s free,” Granholm said.
Kildee, who is running for re-election in the new 8th Congressional District that includes the city of Midland, acknowledged that passing his bill will take some work.
“I’m optimistic, …….