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  • Whatever it takes

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2008
Diane Laurin

Funny that it took this long for Congress to vote on extending the 30 percent federal investment tax credit for solar energy. After far too much wrangling, the bill was attached to H.R.1424 – better known as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act – which passed on Oct. 1 to try and ease our financial crisis.

The bill had been a long time coming, and prior to passage had ignited a fury of installations, and thus shortages, of solar panels by those racing to make the original December 31, 2008, deadline. Happily, the improved extended solar investment tax credit eliminates the $2000 monetary cap for residential solar electric installations and authorizes $800 million for clean energy bonds for renewable-energy-generating facilities, including solar.

Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), an organization deeply committed to and active in alternative energy solutions, said that the bill will “create a domestic solar industry with hundreds of thousands of jobs while providing clean, affordable, carbon-free energy to millions of American families, businesses, and communities.

“By 2016,” Resch said, “we expect solar energy to be the least expensive source of electricity for consumers.” The original tax credits enacted in 2005, he said, have caused the amount of solar electric capacity installed in 2007 to double that installed in 2006.

Now our biggest challenge is to steer clear of the American complacency that followed in the 1970s when surging oil prices began to fall. Thirty-five years ago, having survived the crisis, many of us lost enthusiasm for alternative energy solutions, and our motivation to fight huge energy consumption went out the window.

We won’t get fooled again.

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