US COVID-19 stimulus package passes without solar ITC extension

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Image: bclinesmith.

Attempts have failed to include an extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit in a significant stimulus package the US has adopted to shelter the economy against the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The stimulus package, valued at some US$2 trillion, was agreed early on Wednesday morning (25 March 2020) following days of negotiations between Republican and Democrat senators.

The full details of the package had yet to be disclosed at the time of publication but it is understood that Democrats did not succeed in their attempts to include provisions to extend the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

The solar ITC, a considerable boon for developers of solar in the US, began degressing from 1 January 2020 after previous attempts to secure an extension within a finance bill failed at the end of last year.

But the economic stimulus package, designed to support businesses and individuals in the US as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to wreak havoc on worldwide economies, represented another chance for politicians to revive the ITC.

Democrats led by speaker Nancy Pelosi were fighting to include such measures in the bill, leading to several standoffs in recent days and exhaustive negotiations to have taken place between the two main political parties in the US.

In a statement issued after the stimulus package was agreed, Abigail Ross Hopper, president and chief executive at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), acknowledged that there were several elements in the legislation that could support solar businesses and employees, pointing in particular to long-term unemployment insurance, business loans and employee protections.

“We will be working to help our members understand what resources are available to them as a result of this legislation and how they can use those resources to help get through this difficult time,” she said.

Ross Hopper did, however, once again note that the ongoing pandemic could result in the loss of as many as half of solar industry jobs in the US, equivalent to some 125,000 people. The warning echoed sentiments raised earlier this week, after more than 500 US-based solar companies co-signed a letter sent to US Congress.

“Congress can help stem this tide. Economic stimulus legislation can help our companies sustain families and invest tens of billions of dollars into the economy over the next couple of years. We remain committed to helping our economy recover from this pandemic,” Ross Hopper said.

“We fully expect to work with Congress on any broad economic stimulus package. This will ensure that when this awful chapter in America’s history comes to an end, the clean energy economy is well positioned to lead our nation’s economic recovery,” she added. 

More to follow…

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