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June 1, 2006

Senate bill text

Contact: Rhone Resch, or Noah Kaye,

Take Action to Extend Federal Solar Tax Credits Through 2015

(WASHINGTON, DC) - 58 Representatives and 11 Senators have signed on to legislation to extend solar energy and fuel cell investment tax credits for homeowners and businesses through 2015. The credits are currently set to expire next year. This bipartisan support comes as 7,000 letters were sent to Congress in the month of May. Solar supporters are encouraged to contact their Congressperson by going to the following website:

The Solar Energy Industries Association praised Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), as well as Reps. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) and Michael McNulty (D-NY), for sponsoring S. 2677 and H.R. 5206, the "Securing America's Energy Independence Act."

"Solar power is clean, renewable and cost effective, but it also needs time to develop," said Rep. Hayworth. "New technologies such as solar systems or hybrid cars aren't created overnight. By extending these tax credits we are giving this industry time to grow, branch out and succeed."

Initial cosponsors in the House included Reps. Dave Camp (R-MI), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Simmons (R-CT), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Mark Udall (D-CO), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Thadeus McCotter (R-MI), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), John Sweeney (R-NY), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Charles Dent (R-PA), John Doolittle (R-CA), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mary Bono (R-CA), Zach Wamp (R-TN), and Michael Ferguson (R-NJ). The legislation builds on a stand-alone solar extension bill Rep. Ferguson had introduced in 2005.

Initial cosponsors in the Senate included Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), James Jeffords (I-VT), John Kerry (D-MA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), and Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

"As we head into the summer with the highest energy prices on record, these congressional leaders have introduced a responsible, forward-thinking bill to help provide relief for the consumer," said Rhone Resch, SEIA president. "Now is the time for Congress to embrace sustainable energy solutions that can lower our energy bills immediately and in the future."

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided a 30% tax credit for solar systems purchased for both residential and business applications. However, these credits will expire after two years without legislative remedy, a term too short to encourage significant industry growth. A long-term extension is essential to reducing the cost of solar energy, as it would create market conditions that allow solar companies to make investments and drive down costs through economies of scale.

"The United States has the best solar resources in the industrialized world, and we should be a world leader in capitalizing on those resources," said Resch. "This bill strengthens America's economic future as well as our energy security. It will stimulate economic investment and create high-quality renewable industry jobs in every state across the U.S."

SEIA estimated that a long-term credit extension would create approximately 55,000 solar industry jobs by 2015 and encourage states to invest billions of dollars in renewable energy infrastructure. Solar energy would displace four trillion cubic feet of natural gas under the bill, saving American consumers $32 billion over equipment lifetimes.

"Natural gas is a critical part of our energy infrastructure, but we have the highest and most volatile prices in the world," Resch said. "Solar is the ideal renewable energy technology to displace a portion of the natural gas demand and relieve some of the tightness in the natural gas markets. Solar power is greatest from 9-6 every day - the time that the grid experiences peak power demand - and displaces the need for peaking and intermediate power plants run on natural gas."


The Senate and House bills both include the following provisions:

Residential Solar Tax Credit: Extends a 30-percent tax credit, created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, for the purchase of residential solar water heating, photovoltaic equipment, and fuel cell property. Changes the maximum credit to $2,000 for each kilowatt of capacity for solar equipment and $1,000 for each kilowatt of capacity for fuel cells. Credits may be taken against the alternative minimum tax. Expires after December 31, 2015.

Business Solar Tax Credit and Fuel Cell Tax Credit: Extends a 30-percent business credit, established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, for the purchase of fuel cell power plants, solar energy property, and fiber-optic property used to illuminate the inside of a structure. Credits may be taken against the alternative minimum tax. Expires after December 31, 201