Friday, December 10, 2010

Section 1603 Extension Included in Senate Tax Compromise!

Solar Energy Industries Association Applauds Inclusion of Treasury Section 1603 Program Extension in Senate Tax Compromise

Extending program will drive U.S. solar industry growth and job creation in 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA®) and the rest of the solar industry int he US are applauding the Senate's inclusion of a one-year extension of the Department of Treasury Section 1603 program in their tax bill compromise.

To date, the program has facilitated the construction of more than 1,100 solar projects in 42 states. At a minimal cost to the tax payer, the 1603 program has supported $18 billion in investment in new renewable energy projects throughout the country and has created tens of thousands of jobs. Plain and simple, this program provides the greatest return on taxpayer dollars. The program has allowed the solar industry to grow by over 100 percent in 2010, create enough new solar capacity to power 200,000 homes and double domestic solar employment to more than 93,000 Americans. This program has created new opportunity for electricians, plumbers, and construction workers during the worst economic climate since the great depression.

Rhone Resch of SEIA: "An extension of the program will keep our U.S. industry growing and help achieve the industry's goal of installing enough new solar energy to power 2 million new homes each year by 2015. None of this would be possible without the tireless leadership of solar's champions on Capitol Hill on both sides of the aisle. In particular, Senators Cantwell, Feinstein, Ensign and LeMieux stepped up to support American jobs in the renewable energy industry and helped convince the Senate to include this provision in the final bill.
"But this is not over yet. Congress must now move swiftly to pass this compromise bill and keep solar working for America."

The TGP was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Section 1603) to provide commercial solar installations with a cash grant in lieu of the 30 percent solar investment tax credit (ITC). President George W. Bush signed the 8-year ITC into law in 2008, but the economic conditions created by the global recession made it clear that few would be able to utilize the tax credit.

So far, the TGP has helped move forward more than 1,100 solar projects in 42 states. A report on the impact of the extension of the TGP by EuPD Research projected it would create 65,000 new U.S. jobs and 5,100 megawatts of solar capacity – enough to power more than 1 million households.

Background Materials & RESOURCES

SEIA policy overview of Treasury Grant Program:

Fact sheet on TGP and job creation:

Summary of solar projects awarded a Treasury Grant:

EuPD Research "Economic Impact of the Extension of the TGP":

The Solar Foundation National Solar Jobs Census 2010:

SEIA and GTM Research US Solar Market InsightTM Executive Summary:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Report from The Solar Foundation Shows Pennsylvania Earned Second Place in the Country by Creating 6,700 Solar Jobs

For Immediate Release: December 2, 2010
Contact: Maureen Mulligan, Sustainable Futures Communications

On behalf of Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association and Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA/PASEIA), the largest solar trade association in the mid-Atlantic region, I want to thank Penn Environment and its research partners for focusing on documenting solar jobs in the nation and in Pennsylvania in particular. Pennsylvania has seen substantial solar growth since the passage of the Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard of 2004. At that time, there were about a dozen solar installers in Pennsylvania, many of whom were working with the Sustainable Development Fund’s PV Grant Program, a small program that incentivized residential solar projects in the Philadelphia area. Now, there are over 700 solar installers approved by the Department of Environmental Protection and many more people working as solar laborers, bookkeepers, cashiers, manufacturing, distributors, researchers, engineers, consultants; and in sales, finance, government relations to name a few.

Solar development in our state is truly a success story. This new report shows Pennsylvania earned second place in the country by creating an estimated 6,700 solar jobs based on their survey results, only behind California. One of the true values of the Solar Foundation and their partners report is that it relied exclusively on actual survey responses by solar employers and was not based on economic and job model projections. Several other studies have been conducted, such as the one done for Pennsylvania by Black & Veatch which showed impressive job growth in our state if our legislature had increased the solar share from 0.5% to 3%; but these jobs are not expected to materialize because the solar legislation did not pass before the session ended.

The Solar Foundation Report demonstrates that the solar industry is growing at a much faster rate than the economy overall. The Report also sought to find out if solar companies expected to add or cut jobs over the next twelve months. Fifty-five percent of surveyed firms expect to add employees while only two percent expect to cut workers over this period. Yet, I’m not at all convinced right now that Pennsylvania will see any solar growth in the next few years without a change in state policy. In fact, I would predict that Pennsylvania could easily be part of the 2% statistic “cutting jobs”. Why? Without a legislative change to the solar share, solar businesses are likely to go to where there are solar friendly policies.

Most of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states, (New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware), now have more aggressive solar requirements than Pennsylvania. We were a leader in the country but we haven’t kept pace and are rapidly falling behind. These neighboring states require an average of 2% of their electricity to come from solar while Pennsylvania is stuck at 0.5%. Without a higher requirement for this coming year and next, there will be virtually no market in Pennsylvania for solar renewable energy credits. The ability to sell these credits drives solar development.

The attached graph illustrates how the solar industry could become a victim of its own success. We have more projects installed and under development than we have buyers for the credits. This graph represents the solar credits - converted to solar PV capacity (MW) - the utilities and electric generation suppliers need to purchase each year compared to the number of projects already installed. Each installed project creates solar credits. Credits represent about one-half of the revenue stream to make solar projects financially viable. Without a market for the credits, projects can’t be developed. In addition, the state solar rebate program, the PA. Sunshine Program is almost fully subscribed and Commonwealth Financing Authority’s solar grant and loan program is fully subscribed.

With the rebate money almost exhausted, that leaves the solar industry even more reliant on the revenue from the solar renewable energy credits to stay in business. The solar industry in PA. is likely to come to a grinding halt if the legislature doesn’t act to increase the solar requirement very soon.

The state of solar development in Pennsylvania is in serious jeopardy unless action is taken when the legislature returns. It will be up to Governor Corbett and the new legislature to answer the question as to whether Pennsylvania will be part of the continued growth of the solar industry or will fall victim to failed policy.

Maureen Mulligan
Sustainable Futures Communications on behalf of MSEIA/PASEIA