3:32 PM EDT

Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ 8th

Ms. GIFFORDS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

If there is one thing that we here in Congress can bank on, it's that the sun is going to come up each and every day. Solar power is a domestic form of renewable energy, and increasing its use will be good for our environment, good for public health, good for our national security and good for our economy.

I hail from the great State of Arizona, of course, which is rich in sunshine, but every single State in our country receives enough sunshine to make valuable use of solar energy. In addition to all the societal benefits that I mentioned, solar power is also a solid property investment. Solar panels installed on homes or offices enable families or businesses to reduce and often eliminate electricity bills. They often pay for themselves in just a few short years. Solar panels can increase the resale

value of a home or a business. Solar products are becoming more efficient and more attractive all the time and, in fact, there are several examples where the solar panels are actually built into and blend with regular roof tiles.

Unfortunately, many consumers are not aware of some of these benefits of solar. They're not aware of the improvements. A challenge for the solar industry to advertise and promote this has been addressed by another industry that I believe that we can learn from. The agriculture industry pioneered a mechanism called the check-off program, and they did this to increase generally an awareness of a product rather than a particular brand. These programs are federally created and they are a proven way

of increasing consumer awareness of a category of products. Almost two dozen programs have been created, and some of these we know very well. For example, in the milk industry, the Got Milk? campaign. Beef. Cotton. Pork. The wide familiarity that we can all name in these campaigns

is a solid testament to the effectiveness of raising consumer awareness. And increased consumer awareness is exactly what the solar industry needs in order to increase the demand for products here in the United States, which will be to the benefit of the entire country.

I therefore offer an amendment that would create a check-off program for the solar industry. This amendment has been explicitly requested by the solar industry. It is structured to incur no cost for the government. All costs are borne by the solar industry, yet individual companies have the ability to opt out of the program.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment. It is a proven idea with a good track record. It will address global warming, energy independence, American competitiveness, and I believe it's a winning proposition.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

3:38 PM EDT

Ralph M. Hall, R-TX 4th

Mr. HALL of Texas. How long would it be before they could opt out if this is passed? What period is the opt-out period, and explain that to us, if you would.

3:38 PM EDT

Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ 8th

Ms. GIFFORDS. To my knowledge, those companies will be able to opt out if they do not want to participate in the program. Again, this is an amendment that was brought to me by the Solar Energy Industries Association. The solar companies in Arizona that I have worked with are all in favor of this amendment. Again, it's a voluntary program where the companies can choose to opt out if they so choose. But it has been successful, Mr. Chairman, in many other industries. And the [Page:

H9866]

agriculture industries that I mentioned are good examples.

I am certainly willing to work with my friend from Texas as this bill moves forward, but I do think that there are some real benefits to offering this amendment.

3:39 PM EDT

Ralph M. Hall, R-TX 4th

Mr. HALL of Texas. I would hope that you would. A lot of the companies that would be affected by this may be small businesses, they may not have the ability to opt out, and then have to bring a receipt to show, to maybe claim back some of their outlay. But they might be small businesses and startups, and I'm really concerned that it might have some unintended consequences.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.