As one of the fastest-growing industries in America, the solar industry is poised to lead the U.S. out of the massive economic recession caused by COVID-19. With the right policies in place, solar can be a crucial part of the solution to rebuild America’s economy and put people back to work.
This week we're focused on urging Congress to save solar jobs and provide stimulus for the industry so that we can help lead the way to a new clean energy economy. The impacts to our industry have already been significant, and promise to get worse before they get better. Meanwhile, it should be a no-brainer that the solar industry is critical to a sane, sustainable economic recovery for our country and our planet.
Before Covid-19, solar was the fastest growing industry nationwide. Data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) shows that pre-Covid, solar represented 250,000 jobs and growing. Additionally, the U.S. solar industry was on track to add nearly 50,000 more workers to our ranks and invest $25 billion into the U.S. economy this year. These are solid middle-class jobs that are accessible to all Americans and cannot be outsourced. Solar installers are sustainable local businesses that can keep our country strong.
But in the face of Covid-19, the solar industry is seriously threatened. According to SEIA's most recent data, 55% of solar workers surveyed are already laid off or suffering cutbacks. Our company is no exception. Earlier in March, our company went on furlough until we could feel confident that we could resume work on our projects safely. We are thankful that we were able to return to the rooftops on May 11th with a safety plan in place, but these impacts will continue to be felt.
We all know that after the Covid-19 crisis abates, a new normal must emerge. This crisis has laid bare all the systems which were strained and outdated, including health care, workers rights, and of course the polluting, climate crippling effects of our fossil fuel based energy systems. It is clear we cannot go back to the way we did business in the past. The solar industry offers a proven technology that is inexpensive, sustainable and drives job growth. It should be a key focus of the recovery.
If you'd like to send your Senators and Congresspeople a note letting them know how important solar is right now, please check out this version of what we sent and feel free to cut and paste or adapt it to your own message. You can find the names and contact information for your congresspeople here, and your senators here.
Dear Senator ___:
Thank you for caring about solar energy and the jobs that solar projects generate. In this difficult time, I would like to stress that Federal investment incentives for solar are now one of the most effective mechanisms you have at your disposal to help the US economy and help tens of thousands of people get back to work in a sensible, sustainable way.
I urge you to consider these opportunities as a way to provide good paying jobs and stimulus to the solar industry, which is critical to economic recovery after COVID-19:
- Offer a choice of ITC or providing direct cash, utilizing the Treasury 1603 Program, in lieu of ITC for all solar projects, similar to the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
- Roll back the solar ITC to 2019 levels, for 30%, and keeping it intact for another five years until 2024; and
- Extend the 2019 safe harbor period for 2020 and 2021 projects until 2024.
Federal solar energy investment incentives will protect and grow jobs, reduce carbon emissions, and lower utility bills for homeowners, small businesses, schools, hospitals, religious organizations, non-profits, and municipalities across our country. In fact, the Solar Energy Industries Association data shows that extending the solar ITC at the 2019 value of 30% would add up to 113,000 jobs and $87 billion in economic development by 2030.
The Investment Tax Credit for Solar Energy has already been a job-creation engine, adding $140 billion in private investment and more than 200,000 jobs since President Bush signed it into law in 2006. These are solid middle-class jobs that are accessible to all Americans and cannot be outsourced. Solar installers are sustainable local businesses, and as you know, solar energy has been the fastest growing part of the Virginia and national economy.
But in the face of Covid-19, the solar industry is threatened. According to SEIA's most recent data, 55% of solar workers surveyed are already laid off or suffering cutbacks.
And of course, a return to work will not mean a return to normal. We are facing a far deeper recession than we experienced in 2009. A Treasury 1603 program, and a full value Investment Tax Credit is the Federal investment needed to get solar jobs back on track.
Continuing the Federal investment in solar energy project development will also help protect the environment and provide a much-needed win for the climate. According to recent analysis by the Rhodium Group, clean energy tax credits are currently our government’s most effective mechanism to reduce carbon emissions. The Rhodium study shows that extending the ITC has the potential to increase the percentage of renewable energy powering the electric sector up to 31% by 2030. Considering that we are currently at 8% renewable energy, this improvement is significant.
We all know that after the Covid-19 crisis abates, a new normal must emerge. This crisis has laid bare all the systems which were strained and outdated, and it is clear we cannot go back to the way we did business in the past. The ITC is a mechanism that you already have on the books, can be easily extended, and is massively effective for kickstarting sustainable economic growth and job creation. It is clearly a no-brainer at this point.
For the health of the solar industry, upon which a sustainable new normal can be built, we urge you to consider the aforementioned opportunities for economic recovery and a path to a bright renewable energy future. For your reference, these same stimulus proposals are being advocated by the national Solar Energy Industries Association.
Thank you for your consideration.
Thanks, everyone, for speaking up for solar! If you write your legislators, please post about it on social media and tag us @ipsunsolar to help spread the word. Let's make our voices heard so that our new normal can set the stage for a bright, renewable energy future for everyone!