SEIA held its second annual Solar+ Policy Summit at the Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C., on December 4. The proposed 30% ITC extension for five more years, included in the House Ways and Means Committee’s comprehensive clean energy tax package, was one of the biggest issues of the day. About two weeks remain for Congress to make a decision on the tax package before the holiday recess on December 16.
Senators from both sides of the aisle at the summit voiced support for the extension. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) said extending the ITC is a priority for her office, but she needs the industry’s help convincing Senate Republicans to support it too.
“It is something that is topical. It is something we can do together. It is bipartisan. I just need your voices on the outside saying this should be part of the package,” Cortez Masto said.
She asked attendees to call their Senators and ask them to reach out to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to tell him why the ITC extension is important.
One Republican Senator at the summit was an exception as a supporter of the ITC extension.
“How can you argue with solar energy? Despite what you hear about the partisan divide, on this issue we could lead the way to make each state better,” said Senator Ralph Norman (R-SC).
Norman announced his support for the ITC extension at the summit, making it the first time many had heard him publicly come out in favor of it. He said his support is rooted in the business opportunities an ITC extension would bring, saying “we must do what’s required to put solar front-and-center stage for every state in this country” to help “bring manufacturing back” to the United States.
Attendees were anxious to know what might actually happen with the ITC. One person asked SEIA what the chances are that the extension gets passed.
“I never give percentages,” said Erin Duncan, SEIA’s VP of congressional affairs. But she said she thinks “momentum is on our side” given the real, substantive impact that an extension can have on climate change.
Duncan said calling legislators and asking them to support ITC extension is absolutely crucial in these last two weeks before the recess.
“It is up to us,” Duncan said. “We have lobbied our hearts out on the Hill.”
Alex McDonough, VP of public policy at Sunrun, previously worked as former senator Harry Reid’s energy, environment and climate advisor. He said when the ITC legislation was originally written in 2005, it didn’t foresee tariffs and other obstacles that would necessitate an extension.
Now, with tariffs harming the solar industry and climate solutions urgently needed, McDonough said it’s clear the ITC needs to stick around for a while — especially after a survey this week by public opinion research firm Global Strategy Group found 89% of Americans support extending such incentives.