Excerpt from “Now is the Wrong Time for States to Reduce Solar Incentives,” by Stephen Kisker, published in Renewable Energy World.
Thanks in large part to state and federal incentives, the cost to install solar PV systems has decreased 400 percent over the last eight years, while technology advancements have improved system efficiency. As a result, the cost of solar energy is approaching the point at which governmental incentives will no longer be necessary. In recognition of the continued need for governmental incentives for the near term, President Obama recently signed into law a bill that extended the Investment Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation, both of which have been instrumental in the growth of the U.S. solar industry.
The current strength of solar is unquestionable. New solar facilities are coming online at a pace that exceeds those powered by coal, natural gas and oil combined. The solar industry is generating jobs at a pace 20 percent greater than that of the U.S. economy as a whole, with the country’s solar industry now responsible for more than 200,000 full-time jobs. The U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association predicts that the extension of the federal tax incentives will lead to a 25-percent increase in U.S. solar capacity, fueled by a 15-percent increase in solar sector jobs in 2016.
Further emphasizing the importance that renewable energy will play in the future of U.S. energy policy, President Obama has promulgated the Federal Clean Power Plan and executed the Paris Climate Change Agreement. There is little doubt that solar power must play a significant role in achieving the emission reductions required by these agreements. As a result, the U.S. solar industry is positioned for significant growth.
Notwithstanding all that the U.S. solar industry has going for it, some states are taking actions that may not only stall the growth of the industry within their borders, but may reverse many of the advancements that have made solar such an important part of the future of U.S. energy policy.