The sun shines on the solar industry

Authored By matt.pulford

Congress approved a five-year extension on the investment tax credit to continue a 30 percent rebate for solar energy last week.

Individuals and companies can continue to claim a dollar-to-dollar reduction in income taxes if they install solar panels, Solar Energy Industries Association officials said.

SEIA CEO Rhone Resch said this will make solar energy more affordable and commonplace among American homes and businesses.

SEIA also estimates that more than 222,000 new industry jobs will be needed by 2020 to keep pace with demand. And carbon emissions would be cut by 100 million metric tons, he said.

“This historic vote brings the solar industry to the forefront of the conversation about American energy,” Resch said. “Solar power in this nation will more than triple by 2020, hitting 100 gigawatts. That’s enough to power 20 million homes and represents 3.5 percent of U.S. electricity generation.”

The ITC extension will help contribute an estimated $133 billion to the economy, he said. Small businesses, which comprise 85 percent of the industry, will supply much of the growth, Resch said.

And Chattanooga’s Tennessee Solar Solutions will be a part of the boom, said Ginny Kincer, Tennessee Solar Solutions COO. She said she expects local individuals and businesses to take advantage of the tax credit and that solar energy will become more prevalent in the Scenic City.

“We certainly expect the amount of solar sales to increase,” Kincer said. “Having the extensions of the ITC will dramatically help continue the progress of installations of solar energy systems, and we encourage people to use green energy. This will help the industry as a whole, including [here in] Chattanooga.”

While initial installation might be pricey, the rebate will help with the return on investment-the amount of time for someone to recover their payments-over the long run, she said. The sun-powered renewable energy eventually pays for itself.

Already, about 11,000 Tennessee homes use solar energy, according to SEIA. The state ranks 17th in solar capacity.

Kincer said the state will only increase its reliability on solar energy as an alternative energy source after last week’s extension of the ITC.

“It’s a fascinating industry to be in right now,” Kincer said. “Every day it becomes more exciting.”