Congress has apparently reached agreement on broad end-of-year legislation that includes significant benefits for solar energy. The full legislative package combines a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package and an omnibus spending bill for 2021 with tax extenders and energy policy changes. The legislation provides a two-year extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and additional funding for research and development, including on soft costs critical to distributed energy deployment and support for more sensible access to federal lands for renewable energy projects.
Revised step-down: Under the proposed legislation, the solar ITC will remain at 26% for projects that begin construction in 2021 and 2022, step down to 22% in 2023, and down to 10% in 2024 for commercial projects while the residential credit ends completely. Companies beginning construction on projects in 2021 would still have a four-year period to place their projects in service to take advantage of the ITC, with the statutory deadline for projects placed in service reset to before Jan. 1, 2026.
Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association on this positive development for workers and America’s clean energy progress:
“We are heartened to see Congress step up to provide Americans with some relief after our country has been mired in a public health and economic disaster. This pandemic has taken an immeasurable toll on American families, and our deepest sympathies are with those who have lost loved ones and those who are suffering economically because of the ongoing crisis.
“Over the next few years, we have an opportunity to build a stronger, more reliable, and more equitable American energy economy, and the action Congress is taking today is a helpful down payment.
“The provisions that help solar workers and businesses are a result of SEIA’s tireless advocacy throughout this difficult year, and I want to thank our champions in Congress for understanding the immense economic value the solar industry offers to communities across the country.
“SEIA will continue to advocate for policy that incentivizes renewable energy deployment and addresses the climate crisis in a way that ensures environmental justice. We will work to make ITC benefits available as a direct payment to augment solar energy growth. We also must create sound infrastructure policy and ensure adequate funding to support programs such as SolarAPP, which expedites solar project permitting.
“There is bipartisan consensus on many of these issues, and we look forward to working with the incoming administration and the 117th Congress on future pro-solar policies, even as we are grateful to this Congress for their actions today.”
— Solar Builder magazine