Ryan Evans: Keeping tax credit can clean Utah’s air and fuel its economy

Federal policymakers may be on the cusp of defeating a successful solar energy program, but Utah’s elected representatives have a chance to broker a deal that will preserve the jobs and economic growth that solar brings.

The federal solar investment tax credit will begin winding down at the end of this year and, at the same time, administration officials are considering visiting upon the industry another round of tariffs on solar equipment. This is illogical, especially when the solar industry has already felt the impacts of several harmful tariffs.

The ITC is one of the most successful clean energy policies in U.S. history. It has helped generate $140 billion in private-sector investment, created more than 200,000 jobs and led to enough electricity to power more than 10 million American homes. Additionally, in large part because of the ITC, solar energy is now one of the most inexpensive forms of new energy generation in the United States.

Utah is our nation’s 10th largest solar state and gets 6% of its electricity from the sun. Our state is also home to more than 6,000 solar jobs and, while a wind-down and ultimate expiration of the ITC will not cause all Utah companies to go out of business, we will see contraction and lose jobs because of the additional burdens tariffs have placed on solar technology.

Several of Utah’s elected officials have shown that they want to preserve these jobs and take steps to protect the quality of life we enjoy in Utah. The solar industry in Utah asks our federal delegation to co-sponsor legislation that would extend the ITC by five years.

The policies surrounding solar energy have real impact on the health and well-being of Utahns. As a state, we have made great strides to improve air quality, but cleaner energy and less emissions will enhance what we have already done.

Companies all over Utah, including our sports organizations, ski resorts, large and small retailers and more than 35,000 homeowners have voluntarily invested in solar energy to reduce costs and do their part to improve our environment.

If Congress extends the ITC, they will be creating additional demand for solar in the next 10 years. It will create 113,000 new jobs and lead to an additional $87 billion in investment.

If they do not extend the ITC, it could significantly hinder growth in an industry poised to fuel America’s clean energy economy, if you consider the potential loss of tens of billions of dollars in investments because of trade tariffs and 60,000 more jobs that will be lost or not filled.

I believe our representatives in Washington, D.C., see the vast benefits of solar energy both within the state and outside its borders. It’s time to ensure that existing policy continues to deliver jobs, affordable energy, economic growth and a cleaner environment.

We simply cannot afford to stop our momentum now. There are jobs and lower energy costs for Utahns on the line.

I strongly urge you all to support the extension of the ITC for a greener, more successful and resilient future in Utah.

Ryan Evans

Ryan Evans is president of the Utah Solar Energy Association.