Biden Visiting South Carolina Thursday to Tout Manufacturing Success

July 6, 2023 by Dan McCue
Biden Visiting South Carolina Thursday to Tout Manufacturing Success
Solar panel installation (Enphase Solar photo)

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — President Joe Biden is visiting the midlands region of South Carolina on Thursday to celebrate the growth in manufacturing in the state since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

After arriving at the metropolitan airport in Columbia, South Carolina, shortly before noon, the president is expected to make his way to a manufacturing facility in Springdale where Flex LTD is producing microinverters for Enphase Energy, a California-based company that designed the devices.

Microinverters convert the electricity generated by solar panels from direct to alternating current so that it can be added to the regional power grid.

Flex, which is headquartered in Austin, Texas, provides contract manufacturing for a number of multinational companies at facilities located around the world.

The first shipments of the South Carolina-produced microinverters are scheduled to leave Thursday afternoon, making Biden’s visit the official “kickoff event” for the new facility.

Joining him at the plant will be Flex CEO Revathi Advaithi, Enphase Energy President and CEO Badri Kothandaraman, and a number of administration and state officials.

“Enphase shares our commitment to accelerating the world’s transition to clean energy through advanced technology and strategic regional manufacturing,” Advaithi said in a written statement released ahead of the event.

“We thank Enphase for their 15-year partnership to deliver their IQ Microinverters to market faster and at scale globally with reliable, sustainable business practices. We also thank President Biden and the U.S. Congress for the Inflation Reduction Act, which has increased interest and demand for clean technology and American manufacturing, as evidenced by today’s announcement,” she said.

Kothandaraman also applauded Biden’s support of U.S. companies investing in domestic manufacturing, saying the president’s support of business growth was a prime driver in the company’s decision to bring high-technology jobs back to the U.S.

In a press release, the companies said their new partnership has the potential to create about 600 jobs, which is significant in a region of the state that is not as closely tied to tourism and the dollars it generates as the Charleston and Myrtle Beach regions.

By the time the manufacturing facility is completely built out, the two companies will have invested more than $11 billion in the state.

The trip is the latest in a series of official visits Biden will make to communities across the U.S. to promote the success of the Inflation Reduction Act and point out its impact on a local scale.

For instance, in addition to encouraging partnerships like the one between Flex and Enphase by offering $216 billion in tax credits for private investment in clean energy, the act has also directed roughly $10 billion in funding to support the assembly of electric vehicles and EV battery manufacturing in the state.

In addition, as a result of the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the federal government is investing about $2.6 billion in infrastructure projects throughout the state of South Carolina.

Though spirits are expected to be high at the Flex plant on Thursday, the president is also expected to be in full-blown campaign mode, and will point out that the state’s representatives in Congress — including every GOP member of the House of Representatives and Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsay Graham — voted against the measures.

If they had had their way, a handout from the White House said ahead of the trip, “South Carolina would have lost out on billions of dollars in investments, jobs and opportunity.”

The handout also notes that Republican Rep. Joe Wilson, whose district includes West Columbia and the site of the new manufacturing facility, voted in favor of repeal when an unsuccessful vote to end the Inflation Reduction Act was taken in the House earlier this year.

The handout quotes Wilson as saying the job-creating investment was passed “to the detriment of American families” and calling it a “waste” of money.

“Wilson also voted as recently as April to overturn the clean energy tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act, which have mobilized investments in his home district, including by Enphase,” the White House handout says.

The handout also goes after Republican Rep. William Timmons, who represents the manufacturing-rich communities of Greenville and Spartanburg in South Carolina’s “upstate” region, for voting against $1 billion in funding intended to deliver broadband internet to all in the state who currently don’t have an affordable, reliable, high-speed connection to the internet.

Biden is also expected to point out the inconsistencies in the Republicans’ position, noting that GOP Rep. Nancy Mace congratulated the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority for its receipt of nearly $26 million to build and repair a new clean energy transportation infrastructure, while also describing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, from whence the money came, as a “down payment on the Green New Deal.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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  • Enphase Energy
  • Flex LTD
  • Inflation Reduction Act
  • Joe Biden
  • manufacturing
  • microinverters
  • solar energy
  • solar panels
  • South Carolina
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