Booming Solar Industry with Opportunities and Challenges Ahead
Update 2/17/12: Congress did not extend the 1603 program, resulting in a blow to small businesses. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, released the following statement today:
“It is disappointing that Congress has failed to extend the 1603 Treasury program as part of the payroll tax bill. Small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy, will bear the brunt of this inaction.
“The 1603 program enabled solar installers to develop 22,000 projects across the United States, with an average of $153,000 in private sector investment generated by each project. These projects were developed primarily by small businesses that created jobs and new economic opportunity in the U.S. The expiration of the program is putting many of these companies at risk.
“While larger energy developers have the scale and resources to receive tax equity from Wall Street, small businesses don’t and are hurt most by Congress’ inaction. Small businesses are the engine of economic growth in America, and the result of a continued lapse of the 1603 program will be job losses and undue economic hardship for the entrepreneurs we are relying on to create jobs and get our economy back in order.
“There remains a compelling need for the 1603 program. Accordingly, SEIA will continue working with a broad coalition of energy technologies to pursue every opportunity to extend this important and highly successful incentive.”
EcoOutfitters will continue to keep you updated on this issue.
While the U.S. solar industry continues to grow at a record-setting pace, the expiration of the Treasury Department’s 1603 program could provide a major setback. According to a report released today by GTM Research and SEIA, the U.S. solar industry achieved a new record for installations and growth during the third quarter of 2011. These record numbers were achieved through utility-project completions, an increasingly strong residential market, effective government policies, and the plummeting price of solar panels.
Research from the U.S. Solar Market Insight found that with solar electric capacity reaching 449 megawatts in this quarter alone, the industry realized more than 140 percent growth over the same quarter last year. Bringing the total solar capacity installations to over 1,000 MW in 2011, the industry has already surpassed the 2010 annual total of 887 MW.
With the expiration of the 1603 program coming at the end of this year solar project developers are rushing to complete current projects and to start new ones to ensure they qualify for program incentives. Most likely, uncertainty of the 1603 program’s extension will negatively affect all industries involved in the supply chain of solar energy; posing a major threat to the future growth of these markets.
An extension of the Treasury Department’s 1603 grant program is an essential factor for the continued success of the solar industry and everyone, both directly and indirectly involved with it. It will help provide the industry with stability, allowing businesses and developers to make smart decisions that will continue to create jobs, stimulate the economy, and strengthen the power of solar.
You can help support an extension of the 1603 program by following four simple steps: Email, call, tweet, and write. Please click here to learn more.