Higgins Says Solar Tax Credit is Big Win for Western New York
Standing outside of SolarCity’s new solar panel manufacturing site currently under construction in Buffalo, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) discussed the recently approved extension of the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the impact it will have on Western New York.
“The solar tax credit builds confidence into the market to encourage consumers, both homeowners and commercial developers, to choose solar and with that increase in demand comes growth in the industry and the jobs that support it,” said Higgins.
On December 18, 2015 Congress approved and the President signed federal budget legislation that will extend the Solar Investment Tax Credit previously set to expire in 2016. The law provides for a 30% credit on residential and commercial solar systems through 2019, a 26% credit in 2020, 22% for 2021, followed by a 10% credit thereafter. New to the solar tax credit program is a “commence construction” provision which makes a project eligible before it is placed in service.
The Solar Investment Tax Credit was first implemented in 2006 and is credited with encouraging the private investment that has made solar the fastest growing energy source in the United States, at a growth rate of 73% annually.
Solar employment is growing at a rate 20 times higher than the overall economy. Today over 8,000 U.S. solar companies support over 200,000 U.S. jobs. With the Solar Credit extension that number is expected to more than double to more than 420,000 workers by 2020.
Construction on the SolarCity plant is currently underway along the Buffalo River. The facility will be the largest solar panel manufacturing site in the Western Hemisphere. SolarCity has committed to creating over 1,400 jobs in Western New York and 5,000 jobs statewide over the next 10 years.
"The entire solar industry is grateful for Representative Higgins' leadership in extending the ITC. Solar energy is a vital part of the new American economy, including a revitalized manufacturing sector, led by the Buffalo area. Consistent federal policy means SolarCity and the industry as a whole will be able to create more jobs, greater economic growth, and cleaner, more affordable energy in New York and nationwide," stated SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive.
Congressman Higgins is a strong advocate for initiatives supporting the expansion and use of solar power. He, whose efforts were supported by both the solar industry and the Sierra Club, led on a coalition of over 90 members urging extension of renewable energy tax credits as well as a separate bipartisan effort specifically addressing the Solar ITC extension. In October, he joined Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-22) to introduce legislation aimed at demonstrating the benefits of net metering. In April he spoke again on the House Floor in favor of the Solar Ready Vets Program to provide veterans with job training and opportunities in the solar industry.