In response to the thousands of jobs lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 650 solar companies wrote to Congress this week urging lawmakers to extend the Solar Investment Tax Credit deadlines (ITC ) and create a direct payment option.
Both actions, the companies argued, would help the recovery – something badly needed, with some 72,000 solar jobs lost to the pandemic by the end of June.
“Job creation is not a partisan issue and we should be looking to job creators in the solar industry to help us out of this economic crisis,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the leadership of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “With small policy changes, the solar industry can quickly and efficiently create jobs and add billions of dollars in investment. If lawmakers want to get Americans back to work, they should invest in solutions that can unleash the economic power of solar, one of America’s fastest growing industries.
Firms noted that there are, in fact, signs of a possible rebound underway, but that the recovery remains tied to the reopening of economies. Additionally, ITC relies on healthy tax fairness markets, which have tightened due to the pandemic. This makes it more expensive for solar companies to acquire funding for their projects – or even to keep the lights on.
“Making the tax credit more accessible through a direct payment option would make the industry less reliant on tax fairness markets and restore much-needed cash, helping to keep workers on the payroll and move projects forward,” the companies wrote. “We can’t go back in time either. In 2020, the credit began its reduction schedule and will continue to decline until it reaches 10% in 2022 for commercial and utility projects and zero for residential solar projects. The reduction schedule did not take into account a public health crisis and it is necessary to push back the phase-down schedule to account for this period of lost time to put solar companies in a position to lead the economic recovery.
Before the pandemic, the solar industry had a few years of growth, and this clean energy had an impact on consumers. In a survey of 1,917 people by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, ClimateNexus Polling and George Mason University for Climate Change Communication, 75% said their states should prioritize funding of the clean energy industry versus the fossil fuel industry with salvage money.
In its letter to Congress, the industry also called for legislation that would ensure a more diverse energy workforce, investments in training, and the creation of solar access programs for low-income communities.