Continuing his push to create jobs and support Colorado's growing clean energy industry, Colorado Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), joined by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA), has introduced H.R. 5763, the Solar Expansion of Distributed Generation Exponentially (EDGE) Act, to help spark investment in small scale "distributed generation" solar projects across the U.S. and encourage long-term job growth in the solar industry.
"Colorado is a national leader in developing innovative clean energy technologies and our growing green economy," said Congressman Polis. "Unfortunately, new solar power has been mostly confined to states like Colorado with solar-friendly regulations or large-scale projects that require expensive transmission infrastructure. Solar could and should be an easy choice for every household or small business; every empty rooftop is a wasted opportunity. The Solar EDGE Act will boost the American solar industry, maintain America's leadership in a technology we created, and promote a surge of new clean energy investment that will fuel job creation and drive down consumer energy prices."
As prices for solar technology continue to decline and innovative financing models, such as net metering or Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bonds, are adopted, solar power in homes and businesses is becoming more accessible and affordable for average consumers every day, and many consumers can access solar power for less than their current monthly utility bill. Unfortunately, this cost competitiveness with current utility rates has been limited by individual and varying state policies to only a handful of states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, etc.) that have enacted laws supporting these friendly financing options. With PACE programs facing much-publicized uncertainty, this provision is urgently needed and will help the solar industry act as a stopgap until PACE problems are resolved.
By creating a temporary increased incentive for distributed generation solar, the Solar EDGE Act will create a short-term burst of investment in small distributed generation solar systems that will make solar competitive with current utility rates in more markets, overcoming state-to-state disparities and generating long-term job growth in the solar industry.
Specifically, the Solar EDGE Act will:
* Provide a two-year 20% increase to the current Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for small solar systems (under 20kW), creating an aggressive, short‐term acceleration of distributed generation for residential and commercial consumers, accelerating job creation and technological advancement. Residential consumers of small systems would receive this benefit outright, making solar cost competitive with current utility bills regardless of state policy; commercial consumers would have the choice between receiving the additional 20%, or choosing the currently available five-year accelerated depreciation of solar property.
* Create an estimated 83,000 new jobs in the manufacturing and installation sectors of the solar market, with industry growth benefits lasting long after the short term boost expires. This measure will add a projected additional 1,000 MW of new solar and over $6 billion in new private investment, without the expensive infrastructure investments that accompany new centralized power sources.
* Maintain US competitiveness in the solar industry by growing our domestic solar market, ensuring that the US is not overshadowed by solar powerhouses like Italy, Germany and China.
The bill is supported by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), SolarCity, and DOW Chemicals. "The solar investment tax credit (ITC) is a key driver for growth in the solar market, but in this economy it is difficult for homeowners to secure financing. Congressman Polis' temporary expansion of the ITC would address this issue and result in tens of thousands of new jobs for small businesses throughout the U.S. and allow more Americans to go solar than ever before," said Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the SEIA.
"The vast majority of Americans support increased use of solar power," said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity's CEO. "This effort to make solar more affordable for homes and businesses will help control energy costs and reduce our dependence on polluting power while putting tens of thousands of Americans back to work."