PARSIPPANY — Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-Montclair, picked the perfect location on Tuesday to talk up the benefits of integrated solar roofs: the front steps of roofing-industry giant GAF’s world headquarters.
“We want to ensure that we lower that barrier for businesses and consumers as they look to go green,” said Sherrill, chair of the House Science, Space and Technology panel’s Environment Subcommittee.
Last month, Sherrill and GAF CEO Jim Schnepper met with U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and local environmental business and community leaders to discuss the future of New Jersey’s clean energy economy.
Granholm “came here to New Jersey because she knows that we want to impact the future of our economy by making great innovative products that are also green products,” Sherrill said.
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Soon after, Sherrill and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, introduced legislation to clarify and expand the federal solar investment tax credit to include integrated solar roofs.
The Revamping Appropriate Incentives for Solar Energy Act, or RAISE the Roof Act, “would maximize the positive climate and economic impacts of the next generation of solar energy technology,” they said.
Beyond the environmental benefits of solar power and potential economic benefit to homeowners, the bill would reward companies like GAF that invest in manufacturing green energy products.
The numbers are startling, said GAF Energy President Martin DeBono.
“Every year, 5 million homes get new roofs,” he said. “The amount of energy from the sun that hits the earth in one hour is equivalent to the output of all the world’s power plants in a year. The amount of sun that hits a residential home in New Jersey, when converted to electricity, is 10 times the consumption of electricity from that home.”
Integrated solar roofing, DeBono explained, embeds solar-generating material right into the roof, “so the solar becomes the roof.”
Currently, the company is producing about 1,000 solar roofs a year in four regions around the United States. Should the RAISE the Roof Act pass, “our growth would accelerate rapidly.”
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Anticipating the surge in solar-roofing demand, DeBono said, GAF will open a new factory next month in San Jose, California, “the first of many factories to support that product.”
“We want to incentivize companies and consumers alike to invest in clean energy and make it more affordable to our families,” Sherrill said.
“As the threat of climate change grows, we have no choice but to use every tool in our toolbox to combat it and encourage clean energy solutions,” Pascrell said during the introduction of the bill. “Solar roofing is one of the most promising and easily accessible avenues to reaching our climate goals.”
Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano said he found additional motivation to support the bill.
“When I think of GAF, I think of imagination, because for me, my introduction to GAF was through my [GAF] Viewfinder,” he said. “Albert Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge. What I’m seeing here at GAF is the marriage of imagination and knowledge. That’s what’s going to take us to the next level here in New Jersey and in Parsippany.”
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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