(Washington, D.C.) – The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today announced that U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is the Democratic winner of its 2008 National Solar Energy Champion Award, citing her strong support and leadership on solar energy issues in the U.S. Senate. Senator Cantwell played a leading role in forging the bipartisan compromise that extended the solar investment tax credit (ITC), set to expire at the end of this year, for another eight years.
“Senator Cantwell understands that solar energy is an economic engine that will drive huge job growth and investment in the state of Washington and across the country,” said Rhone Resch, president of SEIA. “She played a pivotal leadership role in securing the 8-year extension of the solar investment tax credits. We are proud to name her SEIA’s 2008 Solar Energy Champion of the Year.”
“Over the past several years, it has been my honor to work with the Solar Energy Industries Association to advocate for policies to promote the growth of the U.S. solar energy industry,” said Cantwell. “By extending the solar tax credits, we will allow more Americans to power their homes and businesses with solar energy. And, in the midst of an uncertain economy, this industry is an economic bright spot that will create jobs in Washington and across the country.”
Solar energy supporters in Congress – with Senator Cantwell’s leadership – passed a long-term extension of the solar tax credits as part of H.R. 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 on Oct. 3. The President signed the bill into law that afternoon. The bill extends the solar tax credits for 8 years, for both commercial and residential consumers.
The final bill included several policies that Senator Cantwell has long advocated for that will help put solar energy within reach for all Americans. These include a complete elimination of the $2,000 cap for residential solar electric systems and an expansion of the credits to allow utilities to make use of the commercial tax credit and to allow those taxpayers that trigger AMT (alternative minimum tax) to qualify for the solar tax credit.
Industry observers agree these credits will create a stable climate for investment and job growth in the U.S. solar energy industry. According to a Sept. 15 study released by Navigant Consulting, the 8-year extension will create 15,000 new job opportunities including 10,000 permanent jobs by 2016 in the state of Washington.
The study reported that nationwide 440,000 permanent jobs and $325 billion in investment would be spurred by the solar sector alone. Navigant Consulting noted that 28,000 megawatts of solar power would be installed by 2016, enough to power 7 million households. For the state of Washington, the firm reported that 10,000 permanent jobs would be created.
Resch presented the 2008 award to Senator Cantwell today at the annual Solar Power International conference, where more than 12,000 solar energy industry professionals gathered in San Diego.
Last month, SEIA presented the Republican Solar Champion of the Year Award to Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon at a private ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of 850 solar energy manufacturers, project developers, distributors, contractors, installers, architects, consultants and financiers. Established in 1974, SEIA works to expand the use of solar technologies in the global marketplace, strengthen research and development, remove market barriers, and improve education and outreach for solar. Learn more at www.seia.org.