Despite recession, the solar industry added new jobs in 2009, but Congress must do more to drive job growth in 2010 and beyond
WASHINGTON, DC – Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, submitted testimony today for the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Energy Tax Incentives Driving the Green Job Economy. Resch detailed policy priorities that would create thousands of jobs and drive both the solar residential and commercial markets, as well as the solar manufacturing sector.
“Despite the dismal economy last year, the solar industry continued to grow and create jobs. Due in large part to successful federal policies, the solar industry supported 17,000 new jobs in 2009. But if Congress wants to help drive greater job growth in 2010, it will have to pass effective policies that give innovative companies comfort to expand their employment base,” Resch said. “Making these policy improvements will result in tens of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. solar market this year and beyond.”
For the commercial market, Resch called on Congress to extend the Treasury Grant Program for two years, through December 31, 2012. Applicants are currently eligible for the Treasury grant if they commence construction on projects by December 31, 2010 and complete construction by December 31, 2016. Resch also emphasized the industry’s support for Congressman Blumenauer’s Renewable Energy Expansion Act.
To drive job growth in the manufacturing sector, Resch encouraged Congress to pass the Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act crafted by Representatives Thompson, Camp, Doggett, and Tiberi and Senators Menendez and Stabenow, which would make the equipment used to manufacture solar energy products eligible for the Section 48 solar investment tax credit. He also expressed support for the Administration’s request of an additional $5 billion for the 48C manufacturing tax credit.
Finally, Resch called on Congress to increase the 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) to 50 percent for 2011 and 2012 for small solar thermal and solar electric systems. Installations of residential systems doubled from 2008 to 2009, due to the improvement of the ITC beginning in 2009. SEIA estimates that this temporary expansion of the ITC to 50 percent will create 80,000 additional jobs and deploy as much as an additional gigawatt of residential solar when compared to current policy.