SolarCity is calling on Congress to swiftly pass comprehensive legislation that includes an extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar.
The ITC, which was set to expire at the end of 2016, is a 30 percent federal tax credit for businesses and homeowners to incentivize installation of solar energy systems, fuel cells, combined heat and power systems, microturbines, small wind systems and geothermal heat pumps.
Since its creation in 2006, the ITC has helped deliver job growth, cost reductions and domestic energy deployment across the country, SolarCity says.
The extension, included in sweeping appropriations and tax bills introduced by House Speaker Paul Ryan today, is the result of weeks-long bipartisan negotiations between Senate and House leaders. The proposed legislation would follow on the heels of the historic global climate agreement in Paris, where 195 countries committed to tackle climate change and galvanize greater investment in clean energy.
Consistent, long-term policies supporting solar energy, along with other clean energy sources, are critical to the growth of a lower-carbon economy, SolarCity says. This week, analysts told the National Journal that lifting the ban on crude oil exports would have a negligible impact on U.S. carbon emissions, while greater support and certainty for solar could more than double the nation's total installed solar capacity.
"Using clean energy is the most important step an individual can take to address climate change and protect future generations,” SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said in a statement. “Combined with the historic Paris climate agreement, long-term certainty for the ITC sends a strong signal to the marketplace that investment in clean energy is the right way to drive continued economic growth and job creation.”
As solar continues to grow, concerns about associated waste abound. Last week, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition released its 2015 Solar Scorecard, which ranks manufacturers of solar photovoltaic modules according to several environmental, sustainability and social justice factors.
SunPower, SolarWorld and Trina earned top marks in the scorecard, which gives solar companies “sunny,” “partly cloudy” and “rainy” ratings for extended producer responsibility; high value recycling; chemical reduction plans; workers rights, health and safety; supply chains; module toxicity; biodiversity; energy and greenhouse gasses; conflict minerals; water; and prison labor.
However, a majority of the solar companies continue to avoid disclosing information about sustainability practices, which SVTC says threatens to undermine the entire industry.