The solar industry had a big win this past December with the extension of the investment tax credit (ITC). This extension offers the potential for future industry growth and provides the opportunity for sustainability without government policy assistance. Consequently, you need to ask yourself: Did you participate in or contribute to lobbying efforts? Or, did you minimize the need for an extension, therefore withdrawing your participation in lobbying efforts?

I extend my appreciation toward the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) for its leadership on the ITC extension. SEIA readily acknowledged the importance of this issue and mobilized individuals to support the cause. Additionally, the association worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill to communicate a consistent message.

SEIA was not alone in its efforts: A number of industry groups and individuals played a part, as well. However, given the far-reaching magnitude of this issue, it is alarming that a greater number of people chose to not participate in this cause. It appears as though the 80/20 rule was in effect, but this time, 100% of the work was done by 20% of the people.

Will those who once denied the importance of the ITC extension now apply these credits toward their projects? I believe previous naysayers will not only utilize the ITC extension, but also observe its role in the daily successes of their business. This discord is part of the American way. Although we do not all agree on every issue, it is critical that we come together on the ones that have a positive impact on our industry.

Our work is not done, though. The solar industry needs to unite in the development of a plan that helps create an entity that can thrive without government support. Over the next five years, proper execution of such a plan will be crucial to the long-term viability of the solar industry. This initiative will require intra-industry collaboration but, if successful, will create unprecedented opportunities.

On the state and local levels, there is much that still needs to be accomplished. We can look toward Georgia Power’s Advanced Solar Initiative for inspiration. A small group of people worked on getting the program passed, and their story is a testament to the positive difference a few individuals can make. Their successful approach to educating the state and local politicians proved key to the program’s unanimous approval by the Georgia Legislature. Support, education, cooperation and acceptance will lead the way to accomplishing our goals at the state level.

With progress, however, there is often delay. Robust solar markets were a product of state policies. Although a number of solar industry businesses benefited from such policies, Nevada’s net-metering issues, as well as the expiration of North Carolina’s state renewable energy tax credit, will create challenges. It is our responsibility to support states such as Nevada and North Carolina so they may influence state policy that helps the solar industry.

A number of corporations have created renewable energy and sustainability initiatives. The ITC extension will create opportunities for more corporations to meet such initiatives. Providing power purchase agreements to solar developers and investing in the ITC are a few ways in which the corporations can meet their sustainable and economic goals. Such involvement will expand our industry capabilities.

As John F. Kennedy said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Every success in the solar industry, no matter how small or large, will make an impact on its growth and long-term sustainability. I would encourage everyone to get involved. Your efforts will make a difference.


Chris Diaz is a principal at Seminole Financial Services, an investment management/financial services company with a focus on renewable energy assets. He can be reached at cdiaz@seminolefinancialservices.com.


Are You Doing Your Part For Solar Policy?




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