New polling conducted by three prominent GOP pollsters shows that 83 percent of Republicans support ramping up clean energy sources like solar. But most GOP lawmakers already knew that.
Solar’s popularity among the conservative base has helped it grow at the state level for years. Case in point: Last year, South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed historic legislation to open the market to competitive solar leasing, and this year, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie supported solar by extending net metering.
Now we’re seeing this same conservative support bubble up to the federal level. Legislators will decide this year whether to give certainty to the solar industry by acting on the solar Investment Tax Credit. The ITC is a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar systems and the fundamental policy that’s helped bring close to 200,000 solar jobs to the U.S. over the past decade. Conservative lawmakers aren’t being shy about their support for this critically important policy.
Republicans like Nevada Senator Dean Heller and Ohio Senator Rob Portman have been vocal proponents of extending the ITC. They are providing necessary leadership. These lawmakers know that solar is popular, but now they’re also arguing that supporting it through the tax code is about parity.
The ITC is the sole federal tax incentive that goes to the solar industry, and it helps level the playing field against dozens of tax cuts and decades of preferential treatment for fossil fuels. The most recent data from IEA shows that globally, fossil fuels receive more than four times the amount of subsidies as renewable energy.
National groups like the Christian Coalition are weighing in saying it’s about parity, and about being good stewards of the earth.
And of course, it’s also about jobs. If the ITC isn’t extended, Nevada could go from the fastest-growing solar market in the country, with the most solar jobs per capita, to a state with thousands of unemployed workers. States all over the country will feel the effects.
Recent analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that failure to extend the ITC would result in 7,000 small businesses closing and up to 100,000 U.S. employees losing their jobs.
Solar is popular and it comes with a myriad of benefits. Failure to include solar in legislation this year isn’t fair, and it could decimate the industry. Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike understand these arguments.
And that’s why there’s hope for a deal this year.
Bryan Miller is senior vice president of public policy and power markets at Sunrun.