Hot Solar Summer: Building Back Better with Clean Energy Infrastructure
Tuesday, Jul 13 2021
America is facing an unprecedented opportunity to enact bold federal policies to decarbonize our electric grid and generate hundreds of thousands of quality clean energy jobs. To achieve this, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is mobilizing a nationwide campaign urging leaders in Washington to act.
Hot Solar Summer will help to keep pressure on lawmakers to meet this moment and accelerate an equitable transition to a clean energy economy.
Addressing the climate crisis and creating jobs are top priorities for the Biden Administration, and the American Jobs Plan helps to lay out these priorities for our nation. The solar industry is front and center in this plan and is a key part of the President’s vision to create clean energy infrastructure and build back better. However, the plan is only that — a plan. It’s now up to Congress to step up and deliver policy solutions that can drive lasting economic prosperity and create millions of new jobs in the clean energy sector.
In 2020, the $25 billion solar industry supported 231,000 American families. Although that number represents years of investment and growth, it also reflects a 6.7% decline in employment driven largely by pandemic restrictions, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2020.
The solar industry is poised to add thousands of jobs over the next decade, but our workforce must grow four times its current size to 900,000 Americans to reach President Biden’s 2035 clean energy target. Without policy action today, we will fall hundreds of thousands of jobs short of what we need to decarbonize the grid.
Despite declines in solar employment, the industry is showing other signs of momentum, as representation of diverse workers increased across nearly all demographic categories in 2020. Over 10% of solar jobs are union jobs, above the national average and comparable with other construction trades. In addition, wages for solar workers are equal or higher than wages for U.S. workers in similar occupations.
The data is clear: solar jobs are high-quality, well-paying jobs, and the best way to continue job growth is to establish a stable policy environment.
That starts with the most impactful federal solar policy in history: the investment tax credit (ITC). A ten-year extension of the ITC, with direct pay, will provide certainty to American solar and storage businesses to make long-term investments and drive clean energy growth at the scale needed to tackle the climate crisis. Including a direct pay provision will make project financing less dependent on the availability of tax equity, helping to speed deployment, expand access to solar, and overcome pandemic-driven economic challenges still affecting clean energy companies.
The ITC is a proven policy driver and continues to be one of the most influential solar policies in America. In fact, Wood Mackenzie found that the recent two-year extension of the ITC increased solar installation forecasts by 17%. Passing long-term policies will drive the deployment of solar and energy storage across the nation and help create hundreds of thousands of well-paying American jobs.
In addition to tax certainty, the solar industry needs long-term investments in domestic manufacturing, modern grid infrastructure, and new programs that can welcome and train a diverse generation of solar workers ready to bring clean, affordable power to communities across the country.
President Biden and Congress have the opportunity to close the gap to 100% clean electricity while creating millions of American jobs. Over the next several months, we must turn promises into action and build back better with clean energy. Solar and storage can uplift American communities across the country, including rural and lower-income communities and fossil fuel workers looking to continue their careers in energy.
Now is the time to put policies in place to make that happen.
Join the Hot Solar Summer campaign and learn how your company or organizations can get involved at www.seia.org/AmericanJobs. Together, we can build back better and continue to grow our clean energy economy.