In a rare show of bipartisanship, state legislators from both sides of the aisle joined together on Thursday to signal their support for federal tax credits that encourage businesses and homeowners to install solar power systems.
The Solar Investment Tax Credit, implemented in 2006, gives businesses and homeowners a 30 percent tax credit for installing solar, but it's set to expire after December 31, 2016.
If Congress allows that to happen, businesses will receive just 10 percent back on their projects, and homeowners will get nothing.
State senators voted unanimously to approve a resolution asking Congress to extend the credits. The Assembly had a single no vote.
“Losing these tax credits will cost jobs and would also increase the cost of solar energy to people and businesses,” said Assembly member Jim Patterson (R-Fresno). “For the sake of our homeowners and enterprises, these tax credits are worthy of extension.”
Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of California Solar Energy Industries Association, said the tax credit has helped annual solar installation grow by more than 1,600 percent since 2006.
She said the long approval and construction process for solar projects makes it necessary for Congress to act quickly to extend the credits.
“A lot of commercial businesses, schools, farmers — they’re starting to feel the pinch now, because there’s such a long development time for solar projects that are really big," Del Chiaro said. "So that expiration is already starting to impact the market. For residential consumers, we’re going to start to feel the pain sometime next summer, where people start to butt up against that deadline."
Del Chiaro said her group is working to get California cities to adopt similar resolutions.