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Why Treasury Secretary Yellen traveled to the political battleground state of Georgia


Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen traveled to the political battleground state of Georgia this week. NPR's Scott Horsley reports she was there to highlight the Biden administration's efforts to promote clean energy.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Solar energy accounts for more than half the new power added to the U.S. grid last year. During a campaign-style swing through Georgia, Secretary Yellen said the Biden administration is trying to encourage families to invest in solar. She says it will not only save the money on their utility bills, but also cut down on greenhouse gases.


JANET YELLEN: As families install rooftop solar or use other credits to purchase electric vehicles, we also move our country, household by household, toward this future.

HORSLEY: During this election year, the Biden administration is touting its efforts to encourage buying solar products and building them here in the United States. After touring the Suniva solar factory in Norcross, Ga., Yellen talked up tax breaks in the Inflation Reduction Act designed to promote domestic manufacturing.


YELLEN: These credits change the economics of clean energy investment across the United States, making it more profitable and predictable to build factories here at home.

HORSLEY: The Suniva factory is about to start making solar cells for the first time in seven years. The factory was shuttered back in 2017, unable to compete with cheaper solar cells imported from overseas. Suniva President Matt Card says he's looking forward to this spring's reopening.


MATT CARD: Over the last three weeks, Suniva has hired over 100 new workers, providing good-paying, full-time jobs. These workers represent the very backbone and promise of our country's transition to clean energy.

HORSLEY: Yellen cautioned that Suniva and other domestic manufacturers will still face competition from heavily subsidized rivals in China. The Treasury secretary promised to raise that concern with her Chinese counterparts. In the meantime, the U.S. government is offering lots of subsidies of its own.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.