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An Open Letter on COVID-19: Impacts on the Solar Industry & How SEIA is Responding

Thursday, Mar 12 2020

Abigail Ross Hopper

As the global COVID-19 crisis continues to develop, I wanted to share some updates about what we know, what SEIA has already done to address the issue, and what we are doing to prepare for the future. To be sure, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and we have laid out some of this information, along with additional resources, on a landing page on our website, which we'll be updating regularly. We're also hosting a webinar on Friday, March 20th where we'll provide updates and insights on the legal, policy, and market implications of COVID-19 on our industry. Please register here

Our Priorities

During the pendency of the global COVID-19 crisis, SEIA is focused on three things: protecting our staff, in D.C. and remotely; continuing to fulfill our mission as the leading advocate for solar and ensuring that solar’s interests are aggressively represented in Washington and state capitals around the country; and appropriately managing all upcoming meetings and events.

1. Keeping People Safe

Our primary concern is the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people — our staff here at SEIA, all of our members and the entire 250,000-strong solar industry, as well as the many millions of others impacted, both here in the U.S. and around the world. We are taking steps to ensure the safety of our staff and following all the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). 

2. Continuing to Advocate for Solar

The main message is this: we are taking active steps here at SEIA to respond to the situation, and no matter what happens, we're continuing to advocate strongly on your behalf in Congress and nationwide to ensure the industry is protected and in a strong position moving forward. These are unprecedented times here in Washington, D.C. and around the country. Earlier today, both the United States House and Senate announced they would close their doors at 5:00PM ET to all non-essential visitors through April 1st. The Senate Majority Leader cancelled the planned recess for next week and is requiring Senators to remain in town to work on a recovery package that could take a variety of forms. Our team is working tirelessly to make our case that the solar industry must be considered in any legislation aimed at supporting the U.S. economy during this crisis. Similarly, in state capitals around the nation, legislatures are responding to the crisis. We are closely monitoring how those changes may impact legislative efforts we are engaged in and we will also focus on how the pandemic may impact our companies’ ability to meet deadlines for federal tax credits and state incentives.

SEIA remains steadfast in our commitment to be the leading solar advocate in policy and regulatory battles nationwide. State and federal advocacy will continue aggressively for pro-solar policy that ensures the solar workforce is protected, that our industry is considered in any economic recovery measures and that our businesses can continue to compete in the face of this pandemic and its aftermath. Much of our traditional in-person advocacy work will take place using phones, social media, email, webinars remote lobbying and other means.

In addition, it is evident that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on our industry. We are getting reports from our members about supply chain disruptions, project delays, sales challenges and more. It is clear that companies will feel the effects of these market disruptions. Among other problems, if this continues, it is possible that companies could be unable to meet project delivery deadlines, which could change the tax treatment or eligibility for state incentives for those projects. We are looking into this and other implications at the federal and state level and advocating for policies as appropriate to accommodate the unexpected delays and detrimental impacts our industry is facing.

There is still much we don't know. While we have a great deal of anecdotal indications of the impact of this virus on our industry, it will take more time to fully evaluate the effects of this crisis on solar companies. If you have information about projects, hiring, sales, investments or any other impacts from COVID-19, please let us know by filling out this surveyTo effectively advocate for fair policies that support solar in any economic assistance legislation, it is critical that we articulate the impacts of this pandemic on solar businesses nationwide.

3. Managing Our Portfolio of Events

In light of developments around COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel our Member Federal Lobby Day on March 31st and postpone the SEIA Codes & Standards Symposium (details will be provided by March 20th). Despite these changes, our activities and advocacy remain in full swing, and we will be in touch about ways for you to stay engaged. As of today, all other events are still planned as scheduled, and we will be sure to communicate with all attendees and stakeholders in the event of any additional changes. Our partners at Solar Energy Trade Shows have also put out public information regarding their approach moving forward, which you can access here.

Our industry is resilient and has weathered crises before. As governments and other world leaders work to respond to this evolving crisis, we are going to do our part to ensure public safety and support the U.S. economy.

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