Ga. Gov. Brian Kemp runs the risk of being mistaken for a liberal.
A rising star of the climate change-denying Republican Party, Kemp landed yet another major alternative energy plant with Q Cells' $2.5 billion solar energy investment in Cartersville and Dalton.
The South Korean company owned by Hanwha Solutions will operate the United States' first complete solar panel supply chain, according to media reports. The corporation will assume a major presence in the state where Georgia Power has long sought to control solar power's growth.
Generous tax incentives backed by Kemp and the Republican-controlled Georgia Legislature have sparked a boom in electrical vehicle and battery factories. Now, the state will lead the nation's solar panel economy in competition against China.
Kemp heralded Georgia's latest alternative energy plant, but the tax incentives in Democratic President Joe Biden's climate change and infrastructure law led to Q Cells' decision. Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff wrote the solar panel inducements included in the act, supported by Sen. Raphael Warnock.
But the state tax incentive were also a significant factor. Under Kemp, Georgia is the national leader in the economic transition from fossil fuels, with Rivian's electric-truck factory east of Atlanta, South Korean SK corporation's electric battery plants and South Korean automaker Hyundai's electric vehicle investment in Savannah.
Kemp also sounded progressive Wednesday in announcing support for affordable housing. In a speech at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's Eggs and Issues Breakfast, Kemp promised affordable housing programs so that workers can find places to live near their workplaces.
In another progressive development, a Republican-led Georgia House committee will study the state's woeful health care system, which could lead to Medicaid expansion, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.
Kemp soundly defeated Democratic celebrity Stacey Abrams to win re-election in November after surviving former President Donald Trump's effort to defeat him in the Republican primary. Along with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Kemp defied Trump's machinations to overturn Biden's presidential election victory in Georgia.
Many moderate Georgia voters supported both Kemp and Warnock in the general election. While Kemp reluctantly supported Republican Herschel Walker in the runoff won by Warnock, the governor has worked closely with the Democratic senators, bringing economic development to the state.
In contrast to his green-economy accomplishments, Kemp has drawn Democratic ire for his support of restrictive election laws, harsh antiabortion legislation and gun rights measures.
Yet in boosting Georgia's solar panel and electric vehicle industries, Kemp stands as one of the nation's most progressive governors. His affordable housing stance matches that of progressive Democrats.
Atlanta will benefit from the new factories, which will form a radius surrounding the city. But it's regrettable that Atlanta itself hasn't landed such a massive operation, which would add another dimension to the city's economy. Worker training for high-paying factory jobs would alleviate the city's persistent poverty and social inequality.
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