In an October 2015 Position Paper the National Roofing Construction Association (NRCA) issued support for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for renewable energy technologies, including rooftop solar. In doing so, the NRCA urged Congress to extend the credit beyond the current Dec. 31, 2016, expiration date.
The credit offers homeowners 30 percent of the cost of a rooftop solar system as a tax credit, and has served as a vital mechanism for bolstering the solar industry. In the last few years, not just has solar become more affordable, but increasingly popular throughout the United States. Additionally, solar industry job growth has increased by 20 percent, and in 2014 contributed to $18 billion of the U.S. economy.
In the words of the NRCA, “The success of the ITC demonstrates that a stable, long-term incentive can drive economic growth, reduce prices and create jobs while strengthening our energy policy.”
However, although solar has many supporters, including the NRCA, it also has a strong opponent. For energy companies, solar energy is a very real threat. For one thing, net metering means that when the owner of a solar system produces more energy than is used, the remainder is sold back to the energy company – at the same rate that the company itself sells energy to the homeowner.
Energy companies argue that net metering allows private energy providers to sell energy at a “premium rate” while not fully contributing the fixed costs incurred by the energy company. These fixed costs – installing, maintaining, and repairing power lines – come into play especially during emergencies when people rely on the energy companies to quickly provide power. By paying less than non-solar customers, solar customer, the energy companies contend, receive an effective “solar subsidy”.
Environmental groups, the solar industry, and the NRCA, however, argue that subsidized or not, solar energy is not just good for business, but good business.
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