US Congress urged to help solar industry curb COVID-19 crisis

Solar panels. Author: Oregon Department of Transportation. License: Creative Commons. Attribution 2.0 Generic

March 25 (Renewables Now) - There is an urgent need for stabilising policy measures to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the US solar sector’s 250,000 jobs, the industry warns.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said in a letter to Congress, signed by more than 550 companies in the solar segment, that one possible solution is an extension of the investment tax credit (ITC).

According to the letter, cancellations in the residential sector have already gone up by 30%, and could reach 50% in some markets. New sales are dropping.

With “dramatically” fewer projects, companies are struggling to remain solvent and many of them will be unable to fund their projects and keep employment stable. The letter also voices concerns that a lot of underdevelopment and construction projects could fail to qualify for subsidies due to manufacturing and shipping delays of ITC safe-harbour qualifying equipment.

The policy proposals include:
1. Launch a program to provide a choice of existing ITC or direct cash payments in lieu of the ITC for all Section 48 and 25D qualified solar energy projects for the length of the investment tax credit period including any extensions under this relief program.
2. Pass a multi-year extension of the Section 48 and Section 25D solar ITC and postpone the corresponding placed-in-service deadlines.
3. Extend the Safe Harbor agreement outlined in IRS Notice 2018-59 to accommodate all equipment delivered by the end of the years in 2020 and 2021 so long as the respective projects are placed in service by the end of the ITC phase-down period and equipment was ordered and paid for in the previous year.

The US solar industry generates almost USD 19 billion (EUR 17.52bn) of annual infrastructure investments, SEIA noted.

(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.922)

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Veselina Petrova is one of Renewables Now's most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.

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