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Editorial & Opinion

July 22 – Letter to the Editor: Expiring Federal Tax Credit Threatens Georgia’s Solar Industry

Category: Editorial & Opinion

By Rhone Resch

With the state’s Solar Power Free Market Financing Act now law, Georgia is expected to have a banner year for new solar installations in 2015. But after that, the future begins to look murky because of the looming expiration of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy. In fact, the uncertain fate of the solar ITC is beginning to create real angst in the marketplace and could result in the elimination of many good-paying jobs in the future.

Today, there are 173 solar companies at work across the state, employing nearly 3,000 Georgians. Just as impressively, there’s more than 235 megawatts (MW) of clean solar energy now online – nearly half as much as our entire country had in 2004!

By the end of this year, Georgia is expected to have 400 MW of installed solar capacity – enough to power more than 43,000 homes.

Much of this economic activity is a direct result of the federal ITC. Consider what’s occurred since it was enacted in 2006:

• 150,000 new solar jobs have been added across America;

• Enough new solar has come online to power 4 million homes;

• More than $66 billion has been invested in new solar installations;

• And one-third of all new electricity added to the U.S. grid last year came from solar.

As it stands now, the 30 percent federal ITC will expire at the end of 2016, threatening to derail the rapid progress solar energy is making across Georgia. By contrast, competing energy sources, such as fossil fuels, have had preferential treatment in the U.S. tax code for up to 100 years, while solar has had the federal ITC as an incentive for private investment for less than 10.

We’re strongly urging Georgia’s Congressional delegation to support extending the ITC for at least five years. By then, many analysts are predicting, solar will reach grid parity in most electricity markets, helping to create a level playing field among energy producers! , which will benefit consumers, the U.S. economy and our environment. That’s a win-win in anyone’s book.

 

Editor’s Note:  Rhone Resch is president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association

 

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