By Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service
OLYMPIA, Wash. – A tax incentives program the solar industry considers crucial is up for renewal in Olympia; it’s expected to be in front of the House Committee on Technology and Economic Development this week.
The incentives started 10 years ago, and Patrick Nugent, administrative coordinator for Solar Washington, credits them for the nearly 10,000 homes and businesses that converted to solar in that time. To keep the trend going, Nugent says consumers, producers, and investors need stable projections.
“If this legislation passes, it’ll provide certainly more certainty for the industry here in the state of Washington,” says Nugent.
Nationally, solar energy received a boost last month (in December) when Congress decided to extend federal tax credits to the industry through the end of 2016. Incentives of all kinds have contributed to a drop in the per watt price for solar, from $20 to 50 cents in the last few decades.
In Washington specifically, a decade of incentives reducing the cost of solar equipment has generated more installation companies. This gives consumers more choices and cheaper prices, adds Nugent.
“You’ve seen a number of areas that has made solar much more attractive and affordable to many people in the so-called middle class,” he says.
The increase in installation company jobs has helped Washington reach nearly 2,400 solar jobs. That’s on par with the solar industry nationally.
Last year, solar jobs expanded in the U.S. by 20 percent, according to the National Solar Jobs Census of 2015, produced by the Solar Foundation.
Billy Connelly, communications manager from the Foundation, says any opportunity to join the workforce could be an invitation to success.
“Be open to starting at any level that you can get into based on your skill set and experience and work your way up,” says Connelly.