EAST WINDSOR, CT – A 29-acre solar panel array and nearly 50 sheep served as the backdrop for two members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation on Thursday to tout clean energy investments included in the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. John Larson stepped carefully as they navigated around 19,000 solar panels and the scattered sheep droppings that populate the East Windsor Solar One array.
The rows of shiny black panels were meant to illustrate the legislation’s more than $60 billion investment in manufacturing incentives meant to accelerate the creation of things like solar panels, batteries and wind turbines — all part of an omnibus bill, which Democrats have hailed as a historic step to address climate change.
However, for Will Herchel — CEO of Verogy, the Hartford-based company that runs Solar One — the legislation’s passage means predictability. Among the bill’s provisions is an extension of an investment tax credit for projects including solar and wind power or fuel cells on construction that begins before 2025.
“This act allows us to look 10 years in the future and know that it’s going to be there under these certain rules,” Herchel said. “It provides us with the predictability we need for capital investment and to provide an appropriate offer for our clients.”
The bill also includes new prevailing wage requirements for projects that benefit from the credits, which Herchel said would ensure quality jobs for the electricians, carpenters and managers that work on the projects.
“This project took over two years to develop and actually construct. All of that upfront investment takes a ton of time, a ton of resources, man hours and actual dollars to bring it forth,” Herchel said.
The East Windsor solar array was one of several Thursday stops for Blumenthal, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign. He will face Republican Leora Levy at the polls in November. Larson is also running against Republican Larry Lazor for another term in office.
Blumenthal stressed the importance of predictability for businesses.
“If you’re in business you can’t plan for the next six months, you can’t plan for the next year. You’ve got to plan for five years, 10 years,” Blumenthal said. “If you’re investing millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars and the tax credit is for one year, that’s a bad investment for you because that uncertainty will kill your business plan.”
In addition to the investment tax credit and a separate production tax credit, the bill includes a total of around $369 billion in funding directed at addressing climate change through policies that also incentivize installing solar panels in homes and purchasing electric vehicles among other things.
“[It is] the largest sum of money that the United States Congress has ever focused and directed on addressing climate change and climate disruption,” Larson said.
Jason Bowsza, first selectman of East Windsor, said the new law would help the town become home to the largest solar development in the region. He called Solar One, which has been operational since December, an existing “success story.” According to Herchel, the array is expected to power the equivalent of 1,300 homes in one year.
And what of the 47 sheep wandering the property? They’re from Hillview Farm in nearby Ellington and their grazing helps reduce the need for mowing the vast property in what Herchel called a “confluence of community farmers in the area as well as renewable energy.”