Solar power has become increasingly popular in the U.S. in the past decade, during that time the cost of solar power also has come down significantly. That said it still enjoys some support from the federal government in the form of the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC), but now that credit is set to expire—and it won’t be such a soft landing. Thankfully California Rep. Mike Thompson (D, CA-5) has filed (H.R. 2412) to extend the ITC another five years. You can ask your Congressperson to support the legislation by clicking here.
If the tax credit ends it will effectively raise the current price of residential solar in U.S. by 30 percent, while the cost for commercial solar will increase by 20 percent. The new “New Energy for America Act”, proposed by Thompson would extend the ITC for both residential and commercial markets for another five years. Meanwhile President Obama has suggested making the ITC permanent.“The ITC is one of the most important tools we have that supports the deployment of solar energy in the United States,” Thompson said of introducing the legislation yesterday (May 19).
Moreover it’s been a huge jobs creator for the U.S., adding to the country’s tax base even during the recession. “Since 2006, when the residential and commercial ITCs first took effect, employment in the U.S. solar industry has grown to 175,000 jobs at more than 8,000 solar companies. It has a proven track record of success and it’s important that we extend it,” Thompson said.
“The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is paying huge dividends for America. Today, the solar industry is pumping $18 billion a year into our economy and creating tens of thousands of new jobs,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “By 2016, we will be generating enough clean solar energy nationwide to power 8 million homes, offsetting 45 million metric tons of damaging carbon emissions—the equivalent of removing 10 million cars off our roads and highways.”
Resch applauded Thompson and the other co-sponsors of the bill, which include Reps. Matt Cartwright (PA-17); Tony Cardenas (CA-29); Earl Blumenauer (OR-3); Richard Neal (MA-1); Ben Ray Lujan (NM-3); Scott Peters (CA-52); Chris Van Hollen (MD-8); Paul Tonko (NY-20); Bill Keating (MA-9); Peter Welch (VT-At-Large); Doris Matsui (CA-6); Ted Lieu (CA-33); Linda Sanchez (CA-38); Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9); Jared Huffman (CA-2); Raul Ruiz (CA-36); Keith Ellison (MN-5); Brendan Boyle (PA-13); Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2); Jim McDermott (WA-7); and Steve Cohen (TN-9).
Installers are also supportive of the legislature. Austin-based Revolve Solar CEO Tim Padden, for instance, said, “As the largest Austin-based solar company, Revolve is proud to join with several other industry leaders from some of the 398 Texas solar companies to highlight the positive impacts that the 30% ITC has had here in Texas and the wider U.S. Over 57,000 homes are powered by solar here in Texas with over $252 million coming into the state’s economy in 2014 alone, supporting some 7,000 solar jobs in the state.”Solar also is supporting the
SEIA said that extending the ITC will give the solar industry time to reach “grid parity” (cost equality) in most U.S. electricity markets. However, an important thing to note is that other, well established energy industries like oil, coal and nuclear, all receive government subsidies that have become permanent.
“Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America,” Resch stated. “Congressman Thompson’s legislation will help to level the playing field with established energy sources, promote competition in the marketplace and encourage entrepreneurial solutions to meet our nation’s energy needs. It’s an important ‘bridge to the future,’ which will benefit our economy, environment and national security.”Tweet