Extending the Treasury Section 1603 grant program for another year would generate an additional 37,394 solar industry jobs in 2012 and some 2,000 megawatts (MW) of solar installations above baseline 2016 level, enough to provide clean, renewable power to 400,000 homes, according to a study produced for Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).
Thing is, the Treasury 1603 grant program is due to expire at the end of 2011. Add to that the distinctly ugly, partisan mood in Congress, particularly when it comes to anything budget-related, and that’s got renewable energy industry participants concerned, very concerned.
Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 has been a key to keeping renewable energy on a growth trajectory in the US.
“More than 100,000 Americans work in the solar industry, double the number in 2009. Solar is a proven job creator at a time when the unemployment rate for the country remains stubbornly high,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, in a press release. “The 1603 Treasury Program has been the single most effective policy driving renewable energy growth during the past two years.”
Stimulus Without Added Spending
Resch noted that the Treasury 1603 doesn’t increase government spending or add any new incentives, it only accelerates payments that would be made in any event by claiming an existing investment tax credit. This has provided much-needed monetary liquidity to those investing in renewable energy systems.
Enacted in response to the “Great Recession” that hit the US and major economies around the world in 2008, it’s been providing much-needed up-front cash to individuals and businesses investing in renewable energy systems in lieu of them taking an investment or production tax credit under Sections 45 or 48 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).
An energy analysis conducted by EuPD Research indicates that by extending the Treasury 1603 grant program for another year:
* An additional 37,000 jobs would be supported by the solar energy industry in 2012, a 12 percent increase over baseline.
o 18,000 will be directly employed by solar companies or indirectly employed by firms that support the solar industry.
o An additional 19,000 jobs would be induced by the industry’s economic activity.
* The additional cumulative capacity installed (2012-2016) would be about 2,000 megawatts over baseline, enough to power 400,000 homes.
o 500 additional megawatts above baseline would be installed in 2012, enough to power about 100,000 homes.
In its report, entitled, “Economic Impact of Extending the Section 1603 Treasury Program,” EuPD also analyzed the economic and job creation impact of extending the Treasury 1603 grant program for two and five-year periods.
Renewable Growth, Jobs On the Line
Resch highlighted the economic and social benefits extending the program would have, particularly in relation to job creation at a time when the US economy is struggling and job creation has stagnated at historically low levels.
“At a time when President Obama and Congress are looking for solutions for America’s jobs crisis, it would be unconscionable to allow this proven job-creating program to expire,” he said.
“Killing the 1603 Program amounts to a tax increase on the thousands of small businesses that are creating jobs in solar. The bottom line is that our capital markets are still in trouble and this program is needed today as much as it was when it was created. Allowing it to lapse would kill jobs and severely restrict the market’s ability to leverage private sector capital to finance new domestic energy projects. Congress must extend the 1603 program to help the American economy.”
For more on solar and renewable energy policy, jobs and economic growth, check out:
- About Solar Power / Why Solar Power
- Canadian Solar Industry Aiming for a Sunny 2012 Budget
- Sunshine State Politician Says US Can’t Compete with China on Solar
I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.