Approved ITC extension cements US leadership in ‘new energy paradigm’

Rhone Resch, CEO, SEIA. Source: Flickr/Center for American Progress.

The approval of the US investment tax credit (ITC) by lawmakers last week puts the US at the forefront of a “new energy paradigm”, according to an industry trade group.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which was at the forefront of the lobbying effort to secure an extension to the tax credits, now estimates that as many as 220,000 new jobs could be created as a result.

“The solar industry now has a seat at the table with the nation’s other major electricity producers,” said Rhone Resch, CEO, SEIA. “Solar is the planet’s most abundant source of energy and offers all Americans clean electricity that can be built at scale and will make our nation proud and prosperous as a world leader in a new energy paradigm."

“This historic vote brings the solar industry to the forefront of the conversation about American energy,” Resch added. “The ITC extension makes America and its solar industry the world’s preeminent producer of clean and affordable energy.”

The extended tax credits will retain the 30% rate until 2019 before falling to 26% the following year and 22% in 2021 before remaining permanently at 10% thereafter. The new deadlines will only require projects to have commenced construction, not to have been grid-connected as is currently the case. This will apply at each stepdown in the rate of the ITC.

SunEdison's president and CEO Ahmad R. Chatila said the extension was the “foundation of a predictable renewable energy policy which will create jobs, provide Americans with cost-effective electricity, and keep us on a path to clean and sustainable energy”.

Solar is the planet’s most abundant source of energy and…will make our nation proud and prosperous as a world leader in a new energy paradigm

Tom Werner, CEO of manufacturer and system developer, SunPower, said the extension would have positive consequences beyond the solar industry.

"With Congressional approval on a five-year extension of the ITC, we have a fresh runway that will only accelerate the global energy transformation to clean, sustainable sources such as solar. The ITC extension provides a sense of certainty that allows for new investments that might not have been possible in its absence.

"Every day, we see increasing numbers of homeowners, public agencies and businesses taking advantage of the benefits of solar power,” he said. “Beyond our industry, this is good for families and for the bottom line of every sector, and will help achieve environmental and economic goals well into the future.”

The 2000-plus page bill of which the ITC extension was just a small part was approved by 65 votes to 33 on Friday.