During the Presidential and Congressional races, there’s something we’re not hearing enough about, energy and incentives. This is particularly important for renewable like solar and wind, but not because they’re seeking special treatment, they want equal treatment.
One of the biggest issues with energy in the U.S. and renewable energy in particular is it has to compete with energy sources, like oil, gas, coal and nuclear, with long, long histories of federal subsidies, which border on permanent. For example oil and gas have enjoyed subsidies since at least 1916 and coal, since 1932. That’s according to a report from DBL Investors. Meanwhile wind and solar, which are coming closer to being competitive with these other industries—that happen to be doing very well—have experienced a wide variety of short-term incentive programs that have helped them become somewhat more competitive, but among other things have reduced investor confidence in such systems, because there’s long-term incentive by which to judge a return on investment.
Now at least one solar CEO, Justin Pentelute of Syndicated Solar, Inc. is speaking up. “All we want is fair and positive policies—financial and regulatory,” he said.
“The candidates are quite capable of telling their stories, making their partisan points, so what I’d like to do here is start a campaign of my own–on behalf of solar energy,” Pentelute said. “Discussion of that and other critical energy topics has been scarce in campaign dialogue, not to mention that it has been negatively and unfairly skewed when it did break through the political fog.”
He went on: “What we haven’t heard in sufficient quantity and volume is the need for ongoing support for solar energy from many sources and in many ways.” Pentelute asserted that the government’s support for solar research and development has led to innovation and more adoption by utilities and others. “Combined, these initiatives created a hospitable environment for solar. Companies like mine have added momentum to the movement with creative applications of solar technology and compelling financing options.”
Supporting solar over the long-term will be essential, according to Pentelute. “It needs to be a broad, long-term priority. In a political climate that is partisan and contentious, support for energy innovation sometimes gets lost in the ether. That’s a mistake,” he said.
He also pointed out the oft-repeated figure of more than 100,000 solar jobs created over the past few years. “Far outpacing the percentage of job growth in the general economy. That trend will continue and even grow as solar adoption spreads through the country,” Pentelute said.