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Fueling Small Solar Business Growth Requires the ITC

Wednesday, Oct 23 2019

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Arch Electric employees installing solar in Wisconsin
Arch Electric employees installing solar in Wisconsin. Photo Courtesy of Arch Electric. 

With each passing day it seems like another large company, like Amazon or Target, announces new solar procurements or bold renewable energy commitments. These companies make the headlines, but the untold success story of solar power in America can be found in small businesses across the country that are making those deals happen.

More than 90% of the U.S. solar industry is comprised of small businesses that employ fewer than 500 people. They’re the lifeblood of the industry and provide the fabrication, installation, financing, and project development services that underpin solar growth. Today, there are more than 10,000 businesses in the solar industry and these companies employ almost a quarter million Americans. Below is an in-depth look at where all of these companies are located. 

National Solar Database

As prices come down and companies come up with more efficient and innovative services, small businesses in the solar industry are thriving. But one important policy that’s helping to make solar an even more attractive option for their customers is scheduled to wind down at the end of the year.

The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) enables residential and commercial customers to deduct 30% of the cost of a solar energy system from their federal taxes. But at the end of this year, the ITC is scheduled to start stepping down before permanently dropping to 10% for businesses and zeroing out for families that want to install solar on their home.

The ITC has already created more than 200,000 solar careers across the country and lead to more than $140 billion in private investment. If extended for another 10 years, recent estimates from SEIA and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables show that by 2030 the ITC will support an additional 113,000 solar jobs in the United States.

As we debate next steps on climate, now is not the time to turn our backs on one of the most successful clean energy policies in history.

For Cyrus Tashakkori, president of Open Road Renewables in Austin, TX, the ITC offers his business stability and long-term policy certainty.

“We are a small business trying to have a big impact in a power market dominated by an entrenched fossil fuel industry that enjoys hundreds of permanent benefits written into the tax code,” he told SEIA. “The ITC has been absolutely critical to our efforts to compete and bring clean energy to hundreds of thousands of American homes and businesses in our area.”

Similarly, Mike Cornell, who leads business development for Arch Electric in Plymouth, Wisc. credits the ITC for growing his business. “Our company has installed solar in Wisconsin for over 15 years and just this year we expanded our staff by over 40 percent,” Cornell said.

“The ITC has allowed us to successfully execute our mission: to educate Americans about clean forms of energy, train people for a career, provide good jobs that support families in our community, and strengthen our local clean energy market.” Arch Electric now employs 45 people in Wisconsin.

For small businesses like Open Road Renewables and Arch Electric, those new jobs over the next 10 years could disappear if the ITC steps down. More than 2,000 jobs in Wisconsin and 6,200 jobs in Texas are on the line.  

The ITC drives growth at every level of the solar industry. Ending this important policy will hurt small businesses and communities that are already contributing to America’s clean energy economy.

For the members of Congress looking to support main street, extending the ITC is one easy win you can deliver to your constituents. 

To learn more about SEIA’s efforts to #DefendTheITC and to get involved, visit our website at: https://www.seia.org/defend-solar-itc.

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