Solar CEO Has Choice Words For Congress On Climate Change

PARIS, FRANCE — Andrew de Basse, CEO of solar project developer Conergy, had some choice words for members of the United States Congress at the Earth To Paris summit held Monday in conjunction with the United Nations negotiations.

“We have a toxic Congress that doesn’t know how to spell climate change, let alone do anything else,” de Basse said during a panel on renewable energy held during the forum at Le Petit Palais in central Paris.

De Basse was speaking about the solar investment tax credit (ITC), which is set to expire at the end of 2016. Currently, the ITC gives a 30 percent credit for residential and commercial solar installations — if the credit is not renewed, it will drop to 10 percent for commercial projects and disappear for residential ones. It’s unclear what Congress will do on the matter — Republican legislators might be willing to extend renewable tax credits (including solar and wind) if Democrats allow for the current crude oil export ban to be lifted.

Letting the ITC expire, de Basse said, would hurt the United States’ future solar output, while putting nearly 200,000 jobs in jeopardy. When asked about what he was most nervous about in the solar industry landscape, he repeated, “ITC. ITC. ITC.”

De Basse offered some optimistic words about the future of solar technology, calling solar storage “the holy grail of renewables” going forward.

When asked what young people can do to help fight climate change and support renewables, de Basse’s focus pivoted back to government.

“Vote,” he said. “Vote! Get out and vote.”