The Inflation Reduction Act ‘could be the most impactful climate legislation of our lifetimes’: SunRun CEO

The Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act on Sunday, and the legislation is being hailed by the CEO of a residential solar power provider as perhaps the most important climate bill in modern times. “We’re sitting on the precipice of what could be the most impactful climate legislation of our […]

The Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act on Sunday, and the legislation is being hailed by the CEO of a residential solar power provider as perhaps the most important climate bill in modern times.

“We’re sitting on the precipice of what could be the most impactful climate legislation of our lifetimes,” SunRun CEO Mary Powell told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “We’re really excited about it. We really see it as fundamentally accelerating this customer-led revolution to a much more sustainable, independent, resilient, and affordable energy system for Americans.”

If passed, the $369 billion deal would be a major breakthrough for clean energy efforts in the U.S. And although some provisions for the oil and gas industry have received pushback, many have cheered the bill as a significant step forward in tackling climate change.

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are projected to fall at least 31% from 2005 levels under the Inflation Reduction Act. (Chart: Rhodium)

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are projected to fall at least 31% from 2005 levels under the Inflation Reduction Act. (Chart: Rhodium)

According to a preliminary analysis by independent research provider Rhodium, the Inflation Reduction Act would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 31% to 44% from 2005 levels by 2030. That pushes the U.S. closer toward the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The earth already warmed by about 1.1 degrees in the last century.

Most of the reduction in U.S. emissions would come from tax credits for clean energy producers. The proposed legislation also aimed to invest in clean technologies such as carbon capture that have yet to scale. There are also provisions aimed at increasing domestic manufacturing for batteries, solar, and offshore wind.

“Make no mistake,” Powell said, “part of what this does is provide stability for the industry in terms of the work it’s already doing for customers.”

Another notable feature of the legislation focuses on making green technology more affordable for consumers.

One program sets aside $4.5 billion for rebates to help households electrify their homes with more energy-efficient appliances and heat pumps. Electric vehicle owners may also be eligible for an expanded tax credit.

These upgrades may have the added benefit of lowering energy prices over the medium term in addition to shrinking the nation’s carbon footprint. According to Rhodium’s analysis, the Inflation Reduction Act would contribute to a $730 to $1,135 reduction in household energy costs in 2030 relative to 2021.

One criticism of the energy transition among households has been that the benefits tend to be concentrated among higher-income consumers who can afford the upfront costs required for solar panels, EVs, and heat pumps.

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 4: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arrives to a news conference about the Inflation Reduction Act outside the U.S. Capitol on August 4, 2022 in Washington, DC. Negotiations continue on the Senate budget reconciliation deal, which Senate Democrats have named The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The bill is expected to include $370 billion on energy and climate spending, roughly $300 billion in deficit reduction, three years of subsidies for Affordable Care Act premiums, some prescription drug reforms and tax modifications. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arrives to a news conference about the Inflation Reduction Act outside the U.S. Capitol on August 4, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Powell emphasized that the Inflation Reduction Act would distribute these technologies to a broader base of Americans, explaining that the legislation would “turbocharge” efforts to bring solar panels to lower-income Americans.

“Specifically, what this does is it just makes it even more affordable for those customers to go solar by delivering a proposition which can deliver even greater savings for them,” Powell said. “At the same time, the backdrop here also is we’re seeing energy inflation that is just really quite remarkable. We’re seeing utility rates rising all across the country. And so those things, too, are conspiring to really have this be such a monumental time in this space to help customers really move quickly to a cleaner, more cost-effective solution.”

This post has been updated.

Grace is an assistant editor for Yahoo Finance and a UX writer for Yahoo products.

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