Cantwell Receives National Solar Energy Champion Award

Delivers Keynote Address During International Conference on Importance of Investing in Clean Technologies

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) received the 2008 National Solar Energy Champion Award from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).  Citing her leadership as a member of the Committees on Finance, Energy and Natural Resources, and Commerce, Science and Transportation, SEIA recognized her efforts to extend a series of tax credits for renewable industries, including the solar investment tax credit, that were set to expire at the end of this year.  In addition to receiving this award, Cantwell also delivered the closing keynote address during Solar Power International '08, an international conference held this week in San Diego, Calif.
“After nearly two years of negotiations, lots of procedural maneuvering, and 17 votes on both sides of Capitol Hill,  we were finally able to pass a number of tax credits that support renewable technologies, create jobs, and invests in our country's economy,” said Cantwell.  “I would not have guessed that we would be able to truly unleash the power of solar by giving the industry the certainty of an eight year investment tax credit extension. One of the breakthroughs I am most proud of is that for the first time we were able begin leveling the playing field by taking away embedded subsidies for the mature and wildly profitable oil and gas industry and apply those incentives to clean energy sources like solar.”
“Senator Cantwell has a deep understanding of the economic potential of innovative industries like the solar energy industry and its potential for job growth and investment in the state of Washington and across the country,” said Rhone Resch, president of SEIA. “She played an important leadership role in the 8-term extension of the solar tax credits as a key component of America’s energy policy and that is why we are proud to name her SEIA’s 2008 Solar Energy Champion of the Year.”
As a member of the Senate Committees on Finance, Energy and Natural Resources, and Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator Cantwell played a leading role in forging the bipartisan compromise that extended the solar investment tax credit (ITC) that were set to expire Dec. 31. Senator Cantwell has supported these efforts over the last four years and two Congresses.
“By extending the solar tax credits, we will allow more Americans to power their homes and businesses with solar energy. And, in the midst of an uncertain economy, this industry is an economic bright spot that will create jobs in Washington state and across the country,” continued Cantwell.
With Cantwell’s leadership, Congress passed a long-term extension of the solar tax credits as part of H.R. 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 on Oct. 3.  The President signed the bill into law that afternoon.  The bill extends the solar tax credits for eight years, for both commercial and residential consumers.
The final bill included several policies that Cantwell has long advocated for that will help put solar energy within reach for all Americans. These include a complete elimination of the $2,000 cap for residential solar electric systems and an expansion of the credits to allow utilities to make use of the commercial tax credit and to allow those taxpayers that trigger AMT (alternative minimum tax) to qualify for the solar tax credit.
These credits will create a stable climate for investment and job growth in the U.S. solar energy industry. According to a Sept. 15 study released by Navigant Consulting, the 8-year extension will create 15,000 new job opportunities including 10,000 permanent jobs by 2016 in the state of Washington.
The study reported that nationwide 440,000 permanent jobs and $325 billion in investment would be spurred by the solar sector alone. Navigant Consulting noted that 28,000 megawatts of solar power would be installed by 2016, enough to power 7 million households.
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