On Eve of KXL Vote, GOP Senate Rejects Sanders' National Solar Expansion Plan

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On Eve of KXL Vote, GOP Senate Rejects Sanders' National Solar Expansion Plan

'If you're interested in reversing the dangers of climate change and creating jobs, I would urge you to support this amendment,' said Sanders

A solar panel array at the Putney School in Vermont. (Photo: putneypics/flickr/cc)

The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would have spurred the purchase and installation of 10 million solar panel systems for homes and businesses nationwide over the next decade.

Sanders's amendment, which he said would have generated enough power to replace one-fifth of the nation’s coal-fired power plants, was attached to the Keystone XL legislation currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate.

With the backing of Vermont's largest power company, Green Mountain Power, the amendment called for a 15 percent rebate for the purchase of photovoltaic systems. The amendment got 40 votes. It needed 60 to pass. 

"The scientific community tells us very clearly if we're going to reverse climate change and the great dangers it poses for the planet we must move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy," Sanders said in a press release. "So if you're interested in reversing the dangers of climate change and creating jobs, I would urge you to support this amendment."

More amendments were expected to be debated on Thursday, followed by the final Senate vote on the bill to approve the pipeline. The U.S. House already passed its own Keystone XL legislation. President Barack Obama has vowed to veto the bill if it gets to his desk. 

On Thursday, the SUN DAY Campaign—a non-profit research and educational organization that promotes sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels—noted that renewable energy sources, namely solar and wind power, cumulatively provided more new electric generating capacity in 2014 than did natural gas.

And according to RenewableEnergyWorld.com, the U.S. is on pace to complete its one millionth installation in 2015. This follows a 36 percent increase in solar PV installations in 2014.

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