The sun was shining on SolarCity’s “topping off” ceremony on Tuesday, as workers secured a specially marked steel beam at the top of the South Buffalo complex.
If the weather was just right for the occasion, so is the legislative climate for the Buffalo Niagara region to make a push into the solar energy industry.
President Obama’s mandate, issued Monday, requiring even steeper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants, will put a greater focus on renewable energy, including solar power, just as the SolarCity’s Buffalo factory is ramping up to full production in 2017.
The White House plan would require a 32 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from their 2005 levels by 2030. It set a goal for the United States to get 28 percent of its power from renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, by 2030.
The Obama plan will give a boost to a fast-growing solar energy industry, which, despite its recent expansion, still accounts for less than 1 percent of all U.S. electricity production. Wind has gone from accounting for less than 0.5 percent of all U.S. electricity generation in 2005 to nearly 4.5 percent last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.