A new study released today by the Stanford Graduate School of Business predicts that the U.S. solar industry is “headed for a cliff” if the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is not extended. Even though the report touts the solar industry’s “dramatic growth,” it called for a phase down of the ITC without any examination of the current and past tax treatments of established energy sources. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), called that omission a “fatal flaw” which ignores how Congress has used the U.S. Tax Code over the past century to encourage the increased production of oil, gas, coal and even nuclear power, making it difficult for solar and other renewable energy sources to compete in the marketplace without incentives.
Solar Tax Policy
The U.S. has a long history of supporting energy infrastructure through the U.S. tax code. The market certainty provided by a long-term investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy has supported private investment in manufacturing and project construction, a vital part in meeting our nation's energy policy goals, driving cost-cutting innovation and job growth.
The ITC reduces tax liability for individuals or businesses that purchase qualifying solar energy technologies, encouraging investment and spurring growth in solar energy.
The 1603 Treasury Program allows developers to take a federal grant in lieu of the ITC, allowing taxpayers to maximize the return and value of existing energy tax incentives.
Similar to many other sectors of the economy, the U.S. Tax Code allows businesses investing in qualifying solar energy property to recover certain capital costs through income tax deductions.
Solar tax exemptions, including both property and sales tax exemptions, are provided by state and local governments to help lower the costs of owning solar energy property.
Solar Financing Policy
The availability of financing for solar energy projects is a critical issue for the industry. SEIA monitors financial regulations and legislation that may affect the markets for solar financing, and supports a number of specific programs that facilitate the development of solar energy projects of all sizes and technologies, including:
The Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) supports financing of renewable projects and manufacturing facilities, helping to deploy clean energy technologies across the U.S.
Third-party solar financing allows residential and commercial solar customers to purchase solar through leases, power purchase agreements, and other alternative ownership models.