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#SolarChat Recap

Avatar for Ben Zientara
Published on 11/12/2014 in
Updated 11/12/2014

SolarChatToday marked the 3rd birthday of #SolarChat (they grow up so fast, don’t they?), and the Twittersphere was abuzz with solar policy discussion. While the sunset of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) seemed to draw the greatest amount of attention (and some well-deserved frustration), solar policy across the board and all levels was discussed.

#SolarChat is a Twitter-based discussion on all things solar and each #SolarChat has a pre-determined theme to reign in the conversation. This most recent session was focused on “Solar Politics, Policies, and Advocacy – A post-election solar brainstorm!” The #SolarChat follows a Q&A format, with the @SolarChatTeam slinging questions and opening up the discussion to all of Twitter. In case you missed it, here are the highlights from the #SolarChatTeam, Senator Harry Reid, and the rest of the expert panel made up of heavy hitters in the solar industry.







Rhone Resch, the President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), gets right to the point here. Solar is a powerful technology and a booming industry that should no longer be a politically divisive issue. With the wide variety of benefits provided by solar – from environmental to economic – Republicans and democrats should be able to rally together under a flag of energy independence, economic growth, and clean energy.













Both Stephen Lacey, a Senior Editor at GreenTech Media, and Rhone Resch point out solar’s greatest ally: you! The future of solar’s political power, especially in your own state or district, rests in your hands. Remember, the solar industry not only provides consumer’s with a smart energy alternative, it also benefits your local community by creating solar jobs – more on that later, though. The link provided in Resch’s tweet offers helpful advice on delivering a strategic message to your legislator – they exist to represent you, after all!












“Commence construction” refers to the proposed modification to the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) which would allow in-progress solar projects to benefit from the 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) if construction on the project begins prior to December 31, 2016, the current expiration date. Given the success of the ITC in promoting solar expansion and job creation, the modification can be expected to continue this trend.













Senator Reid brings up an important point here. Renewable energy sources are often criticized for their reliance upon subsidies to increase accessibility and affordability, but many neglect to acknowledge that fossil fuel subsidies dwarf any subsidies that solar has ever received. For cost breakdowns and links to more information, check out CleanTechnica’s reports on coal subsidies, as well as oil and natural gas subsidies.

Further, subsidies are not the only path to solar growth. With an awesome shoutout to our rankings and state report cards, Jack Shapiro, a Campaign Manager for Organizing for Action, draws attention to the many ways solar can be encouraged through state and federal policy.







We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we take the time to calculate the estimated internal rate of return (IRR) and payback timeframe for every state based on their current solar policies. With 90% of Americans already in support of solar, the conversation needs to shifts its focus from environmental benefit to economic benefit. Many Americans don’t realize how affordable (not to mention profitable) solar can be; we think better communication of this point will mobilize Americans to become solar owners and, as Zachary Shahan – Chief Editor at CleanTechnica – predicts, even solar advocates.













Policy plays an important role in encouraging all energy sources, as Resch states. The neat thing about solar, however, is the higher rate of job creation that results from that policy – higher than coal, natural gas, or even nuclear power. Simply put, if our goal is to create jobs, solar energy is a much better alternative than fossil fuels.













In response to perhaps the easiest question of the #SolarChat, Rhone Resch and Jack Shapiro discuss the economic benefit solar poses for America’s business leaders and small businesses alike. In addition to saving money, businesses that go solar are poised to gain the support of the 90% of Americans who support solar energy.

And that’s a wrap! For more #SolarChat news, be sure to check out the trending hashtag on Twitter and look out for an official #SolarChat recap early next week. We’re looking forward to the next #SolarChat on “Solar and Energy Storage” scheduled for January 14th – mark your calendars!

Last modified: November 12, 2014

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