Capitol Commentary - US PP Update, October 2008

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Capitol Commentary

By Maggie Hershey, SEMI

Spotlight on Solar. SEMI is taking on solar energy issues in Washington. As more and more member companies are becoming involved in the photovoltaic industry, this is becoming a public policy priority for our association.

We are pleased to announce a big win in Washington – an eight year extension of the solar energy investment tax credit! This investment tax credit (ITC) was set to expire at the end of the year. Within the tumultuous last few weeks, the Congress passed the financial rescue package and included tax credits for solar and other renewable energies as well as an extension of the R&D tax credit.

The alternative energy tax incentives had been tied up in a major debate over energy policy, offshore drilling, and government spending. We are pleased to see such a great outcome for the industry (see “Never a Dull Moment” article below).

What does this mean? According to Navigant Consulting, an extension of the solar ITC for the full eight years could support 1.2 million employment opportunities, including 440,000 permanent jobs. In addition to the creation of jobs, the report estimates $232 billion of investment in the solar energy industry in the United States during this timeframe. If the credit had expired, these jobs and new projects could have gone elsewhere.

SEMI was hard at work to make sure that Congress knew what was at stake. We visited several Senators and Representatives to make the case. MKS Instruments CEO Leo Berlinghieri testified before Congress regarding solar and the R&D tax credit (see “MKS Instruments CEO” article). SEMI wrote to the congressional leadership (see “SEMI to Congressional Leadership” article) to urge action on this issue. SEMI also formed a public policy working group for North America-based photovoltaic companies (see “SEMI Forms PV Public Policy Group” article). To learn more about SEMI efforts on photovoltaics in general, please visit

Because of the importance of this issue, this SEMI North America Public Policy Update is focused on solar energy issues.

Posted Oct 13, 2008