Pleasanton Weekly

- September 9, 2011

State legislators want to help solar companies

Want state to give bid preferences to California businesses

by Jeb Bing

Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro) and Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) called on the Legislature on Wednesday to continue nurturing the growth of the solar industry and pass a bill to give companies using solar panels manufactured or assembled in California a leg up in state contracts.

"I understand people's anger and frustration over Solyndra's bankruptcy, and I will do everything I can to assist the 1,100 people who lost their jobs and get answers to what happened," Corbett said. "However, now is not the time to turn our back on important emerging industries, such as solar power, that will be the cornerstones of the 21st century global economy."

"Senate Bill 134 supports California jobs," Corbett added. "If California is going to place solar panels on state property, we should try to use panels that are made or assembled in California. It's plain common sense to use taxpayer dollars to support California jobs."

Wieckowski agreed.

"One thing is clear," he said. "Solyndra's demise shows how tough it is to compete with solar companies in other countries, such as China, which benefit from cheap labor and huge government subsidies. SB 134 is the right thing to do."

Last week the Fremont-based solar company Solyndra shut down, laid off 1,100 employees, and filed for bankruptcy. Many have questioned the state and federal governments' funding of the company as part of efforts to nurture the development of the solar power industry.

SB 134 would provide a 5% bid preference on state contracts to companies that use solar panels manufactured or assembled in California.

The bottom line is California's unemployment rate is more than 12%, and its economy continues to struggle to rebound from recession. The legislators said that enacting SB 134 is one simple step they can take to help protect California jobs.

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