North Charleston Mayor Declares: “Support Solar” and Extend the Solar ITC

Dave McNeil from Hannah Solar Government Services and Chris Carnevale from SACE receive Mayor Summey's proclamation in support of solar.

Mayor Keith Summey of North Charleston, South Carolina declared by proclamation that yesterday was “A Day To Support Solar” and called for Congress to extend the solar investment tax credit. The proclamation was read at last night’s North Charleston City Council meeting and was presented to local solar business owner, Dave McNeil of Hannah Solar Government Services, and myself, representing Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

This proclamation was inspired by recent efforts in South Carolina to advance solar energy development, efforts that will be threatened if the federal investment tax credit (ITC) is allowed to expire next year as planned. The ITC is a key policy that has helped level the playing field between older, highly subsidized energy sources and the solar industry, helping bring it into maturity. Specifically, the cost of solar has fallen year-by-year, with solar now costing 76% less than in 2006 when the ITC was enacted. As prices have fallen, solar installations have grown rapidly – by 1,600% since 2006. The solar industry now employs 174,000 American workers at 6,100 businesses in every state in the country. These indicators show that the ITC is working.

Congress has set the ITC to expire in 2016 unless they grant an extension. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cessation of the ITC would result in approximately 100,000 Americans losing work, whereas an extension of the ITC would result in 61,000 more solar jobs in 2017 than under a no-ITC extension scenario, and 58,000 more jobs in 2021.

Closer to home, here in South Carolina, our Legislature just last year unanimously passed our solar legislation, Act 236, to help develop this promising industry. SCE&G and Duke Energy are rolling out new solar programs and investing in solar farms, like this one in North Charleston announced just last week. Solar companies like Sunrun are scaling up and as of last month had hired 50 South Carolinians. Meanwhile Georgia Power rolled out its Advanced Solar Initiative in 2012 and this year the Georgia Legislature, along with Governor Nathan Deal, passed into law the Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act which will expand solar access to Georgians through innovative financing models. At the same time, large corporations driving huge investments into our states are demanding solar, like Google, Apple, and Facebook in North Carolina, and  Boeing, BMW, and Volvo in South Carolina.

It would be a shame for Congress to allow the ITC to expire and thereby stifle investment nationwide and here in the Southeast. Mayor Summey’s proclamation of November 12 as A Day To Support Solar and his call to extend the ITC show leadership in helping North Charleston and our country continue to grow the clean energy economy, and provide clean, renewable, affordable energy.

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