Rep. Mikie Sherrill visits GAF in Parsippany to discuss green energy
PARSIPPANY – Representative Mikie Sherrill, D-Montclair, chose the perfect location Tuesday to discuss the benefits of integrated solar roofs: the front steps of the global headquarters of roof industry giant GAF.
“We want to make sure we lower that barrier for businesses and consumers if they want to go green,” said Sherrill, chair of the Environment Subcommittee on the House Science, Space and Technology panel.
Last month, Jim Schnepper, CEO of Sherrill and GAF, met with U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and local environmental and community leaders to discuss the future of New Jersey’s clean energy economy.
Granholm “came here to New Jersey because she knows we want to influence the future of our economy by making great innovative products that are also green products,” Sherrill said.
Shortly thereafter, Sherrill and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, Legislation to Clarify and Extend the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Investments to include Integrated Solar Roofs.
The Revamping Appropriate Incentives for Solar Energy Act, or RAISE the Roof Act, “would maximize the positive climate and economic impact of next-generation solar energy technology,” they said.
In addition to the environmental benefits of solar energy and the potential economic benefit to homeowners, the bill would reward companies like GAF that invest in the production of green energy products.
The numbers are shocking, said GAF Energy President Martin DeBono.
“Every year 5 million houses get new roofs,” he said. “The amount of energy from the sun hitting the earth in one hour is equal to the output of all the power plants in the world in a year. The amount of sun hitting a residential home in New Jersey, when converted to electricity, is 10 times the electricity consumption of that house.”
Integrated solar roofs, DeBono explained, integrate solar-generating material directly into the roof, “so that the solar energy becomes the roof.”
Currently, the company produces approximately 1,000 solar roofs per year in four regions of the United States. If the RAISE the Roof Act is passed, “our growth would accelerate rapidly.”
Anticipating the increase in demand for solar roofs, DeBono said, GAF will open a new factory next month in San Jose, California, “the first of many factories to support that product.”
“We want to encourage businesses and consumers to invest in clean energy and make it more affordable for our families,” Sherrill said.
“As the threat of climate change grows, we have no choice but to use every tool in our toolbox to combat it and encourage clean energy solutions,” Pascrell said during the bill’s introduction. “Solar roofs are one of the most promising and easily accessible ways to achieve our climate goals.”
Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano said he found additional motivation to support the bill.
“When I think of GAF, I think of imagination because for me my introduction to GAF was through my… [GAF] Seeker,” he said. “Albert Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge. What I see here at GAF is the marriage of imagination and knowledge. That’s what will take us to the next level here in New Jersey and in Parsippany.”
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the top news from your local community, subscribe or activate your digital account today.