Solar Advocacy in the 114th Congress
By Taylor Sholler, SEMI Americas
With the work of our elected officials in Washington, D.C. coming to a close as they try to conclude year-end appropriations and other must pass legislation, one glaring omission remains on the radar: the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
The ITC, the primary policy mechanism supporting the deployment of solar energy in the United States, is set to expire on December 31, 2016. With a year left under the authorizing legislation passed in 2008, the situation may not seem dire but a look at the 2016 Congressional calendar quickly reveals a different story. The coming year will be dominated by presidential politics, with the elections dominating headlines and dictating attention both inside and outside the Beltway. To be clear, legislating will be an afterthought during this time.
The recently released House of Representatives recess schedule reveals that members of Congress will spend far more days out of town than in the typical year. This timetable paints a gloomy picture for consideration of the ITC in 2016. Such market uncertainty encumbers companies looking to develop long-term investments that drive competition and technological innovation.
Simply put, solar energy jobs and investment in America are at stake. There is a very limited window of opportunity to enact legislation that would extend the ITC and SEMI has been a staunch advocate for a long-term extension this year, urging policymakers to make this a top priority for before Congress adjourns for the year. A significant portion of our membership is involved in the manufacturing of equipment and materials to produce solar energy and SEMI maintains a government affairs team in Washington to lobby Congress on important issues such as ITC renewal.
The message to policymakers has been clear: the commercial ITC for solar energy makes it possible for companies to invest their solar energy manufacturing facilities and projects in the United States. With these investments come jobs. If extended, the solar energy ITC is expected to create almost 40,000 more jobs and $8 billion in investments. Furthermore, tax policies are a key factor for companies when they are deciding where to invest. Other nations have very generous incentives for solar energy and are leading in investment in this area. Now is the time to extend the ITC for solar energy. Failure to do so will cause America to fall further behind and ensure that these investments are made overseas.
America is at a critical point for solar energy investment. Due to the uncertainty of the ITC, many plans for U.S. solar energy facilities and projects have been put on hold. The United States will be a user of solar energy, but we should be a manufacturer of the technology as well. At a time when America’s energy independence is more crucial than ever; it is imperative that Congress pass an eight-year extension of the commercial ITC for solar energy before it expires at the end of the year.
SEMI will continue to advocate for the ITC and other policies that support the development and adoption of solar energy. If you would like more information on these efforts, please contact Taylor Sholler, manager of public policy at Tsholler@semi.org.
December 21, 2015