Don’t Know This Woman? Then You Don’t Know the Future of Solar Power.

US Representative Gabrielle Giffords on the road. (Courtesy of G.Giffords)

Around Arizona, it’s been said that US Representative Gabrielle Giffords loves solar power so much that she married an astronaut just to feel closer to the sun.

OK, that’s probably an exaggeration (and a slight to her husband, Captain Mark Kelly). But it’s easy to see where the joke came from. The first issue with it’s own link on her official House website is solar power. Earlier this month, the Tucson native spoke at the Solar Economic Forum where she complained that many of her colleagues “don’t see solar power as serious energy. This view is mistaken.”


As a member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, Giffords has introduced several solar-themed bills in the House. Last week she introduced the most comprehensive and ambitious solar bill that the House has seen in years: the Solar Technology Roadmap Act of 2009. (You can download the bill here.)

The bill calls on the Department of Energy to create an 11-member Solar Roadmap Committee of experts to help guide and fund — using $2.25 billion — solar power research.

Rep. Giffords greets DOE head Steven Chu before he testifies before a house committee

The former Fulbright Scholar knows something about the need for smart planning — she earned a Master of Regional Planning degree from Cornell University.

Here’s hoping Giffords can help educate her colleagues about solar power’s potential.

First, she’ll have to convince Senator James Inhofe that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around. If Giffords can do that, the rest should be easy.


Osha Gray Davidson is a contributing blogger at Mother Jones and publisher of The Phoenix Sun, an online news service reporting on solar energy. He tweets @thephoenixsun.