12.22.15

SCHUMER: RECENTLY RENEWED SOLAR TAX CREDIT WILL BE A GAME CHANGER FOR WESTERN NY & SOLARCITY; SENATOR, JOINED BY SOLARCITY CHIEF EXECUTIVE, WILL REVEAL WHAT NEW LEGISLATION MEANS FOR WNY & THE UPSTATE NY REGIONAL ECONOMY

During SolarCity Visit In August, Schumer Said Tax Incentive Allows Savings on Investment in Solar Projects, However Tax Credit Was Scheduled To Phase Down After 2016 and Companies Only Receive Benefits Upon Completion Of A Project

Schumer Not Only Pushed to Include Long-Term Extension of Tax Benefit, Also Revised Provision That Prevented Businesses Like SolarCity From Reaping Full Financial Benefits

Schumer: Solar Tax Credit Will Power Up New Middle-Class Jobs‎ in Western NY 

Standing at the SolarCity construction site at Riverbend in Buffalo, NY, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that, after his urging, Congress has extended the federal solar Investment Tax Credit Tax (ITC), which will help boost clean energy and create new jobs at solar companies like SolarCity. Schumer recently visited SolarCity this past August to launch his push to urge Congress to extend and change the existing federal solar ITC. Schumer explained that previous federal rules created uncertainty for companies because they were not guaranteed the tax credit until a project was completed. Schumer therefore said this tax credit’s extension – along with this critical revision – will greatly help companies like SolarCity create jobs and contribute to the overall Upstate economy. 

“The extension of this tax credit is a win-win for clean energy and new American jobs at companies like SolarCity. This critical tax credit – as well as the new rule that will enable companies to take advantage of this incentive when they begin construction – will help power up thousands of jobs in Western and Upstate New York,” said Schumer. “I was proud to fight hard to secure this provision for our businesses, which will allow companies like SolarCity to create good-paying jobs as they build a clean energy economy and contribute to the regional economy for years to come.

The solar ITC is a federal 30 percent tax credit for both residential and commercial solar systems that was scheduled to drop to 10 percent for businesses after 2016. The extension of this tax credit means that SolarCity's Buffalo plant will be able to take advantage of the credit when it is up and running in 2017. Additionally, Schumer secured a change to the current solar ITC's eligibility rules so that companies can take advantage of the solar ITC in the year that solar projects begin construction. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, which passed Congress and was signed by the President last Friday, extends the full 30 percent solar ITC for commercial and residential projects through 2019, with a phase down of 26 percent for 2020, 21 percent for 2021 and 10 percent for commercial projects after 2021. ?

During his visit to SolarCity in August, Schumer pushed to extend and change the solar ITC so companies like it could benefit from the credit sooner rather than later. The solar ITC has been essential for the financing of utility scale and residential solar projects, but was scheduled to phase down after 2016. Without the extension of this vital credit, the Solar Energy Industry Association projected a loss of 80,000 jobs nationwide in the solar industry alone. It has been critical in helping the emerging solar industry expand. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, the market certainty provided by a multiple-year extension of the residential and commercial solar ITC has helped annual solar installation grow by over 1,600 percent since the ITC was implemented in 2006. SolarCity helps their customers realize the benefits of the benefits of the solar ITC by helping their customer’s file paperwork to claim the credit. Additionally, the credit supports the Obama administration’s goal of getting 28 percent of power from renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, by 2030. Schumer secured the long-term extension and modification of this tax credit to keep the solar industry thriving in upstate New York and around the country.

Apart from securing an extra five years for this credit before a phasedown to ten percent, Schumer secured a modification of the ITC which will? allow solar developers to benefit from a solar project when the year they commence construction. Current solar ITC eligibility rules that do not allow businesses to gain from the tax credit until the solar panels they install are “placed in service.” Schumer said that current rules create uncertainty for customers because they are not guaranteed a tax credit until a project is completed. Schumer said that utility-scale solar projects, for which developers must navigate time-consuming financing and permitting issues can take three to five years to complete. In contrast, businesses can take advantage of a major tax credit for wind energy soon after they begin construction of a wind project. Therefore, during his visit, Schumer called for parity between the wind and solar tax incentives so that developers in both industries could take advantage of these credits when they commence construction. Making the credit available in the first year of construction will provide more certainty for companies making long-term investments in solar energy projects and positively impact sales for companies like SolarCity. Improving the financing of large scale solar projects will help the solar market expand and could allow SolarCity to create even more middle-class jobs in the Western New York region.

Schumer was joined SolarCity CEO and Co-Founder Lyndon Rive.

“I want to thank Senator Schumer for all of his efforts and leadership to make sure solar investment the tax credit was extended. The extension and the commence construction provision will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and allow tens of billions of dollars in capital be invested in a clean energy future for all of us. I can't wait to see this plant operational, powered by a new and dedicated Western New York workforce,” said SolarCity CEO and Co-Founder Lyndon Rive.

Despite solar energy’s rapid growth, it still only accounts for less than 1 percent of all U.S. electricity production. Schumer said that while many businesses and residential developers are beginning to install solar panels to save on energy costs and operate in an environmentally conscious manner, there needs to be a concentrated effort to help facilitate the increased use of solar technology. Without this vital credit the Solar Energy Industry Association projected a loss of 80,000 jobs nationwide in the solar industry alone. The solar ITC has played a critical role in helping jumpstart solar energy projects. With stability provided by the solar investment tax credit, solar costs have dropped rapidly and continuously – the average cost of solar energy has dropped by more than 73 percent since solar investment tax credit was expanded in 2006. Residential costs have dropped by 45% since 2010, while utility-scale costs have dropped more significantly, with recent contracts at prices below $0.05/kWh. The solar industry now employs 174,000 workers in 50 states, including 3,300 in New York

In 2014, SolarCity acquired Silevo, a company that produced high-tech Triex panels for solar energy production. At the time of SolarCity’s acquisition, Silevo had an agreement in place with New York State officials to build a solar panel manufacturing facility in Buffalo. SolarCity promised to honor Silevo’s commitment to keep the facility in Buffalo. Once completed, the facility will include a 1 million square foot manufacturing factory on a site located at Riverbend in Buffalo. Solarcity anticipates the facility will be completed in the third quarter of 2016 and will be fully operational in 2017. The project will create nearly 3,000 jobs, including 1,460 high-tech jobs at the SolarCity facility and an additional 1,440 supply-chain jobs. Jobs are expected to pay roughly $45,000 for manufacturing jobs, and up to more than $100,000 for higher-skilled engineering jobs.

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