As a general rule, I don’t make a habit of watching C-Span. Though my office is only 25 miles away from Capitol Hill, I don’t make time in my day to watch Congressional representatives make long-winded speeches to often-empty chambers.
But I couldn’t tear myself away on Friday as the House and Senate voted on the $1.1 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016. For in that bill rested the future of the industry I love—the solar industry.
For those of you who read me regularly, you know I’ve been advocating for the extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) for more than two years. Well, thanks to the Herculean efforts of Rhone Resch, the dedicated legislative staff of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the regional SEIA organizations, and many industry advocates and champions, a five-year extension (plus commence construction) made its way into the omnibus spending bill. And on Friday, the bill passed both houses of Congress and went to President Obama, who signed it into law.
As the last votes were cast, I thought about the hard work and dedication of the nearly 200,000 members of the solar industry who spoke with one voice, with one consistent message, to their representatives in Congress: The ITC is critical to the success of the solar industry and the U.S. economy as a whole.
In a world where conventional wisdom holds that the political system no longer depends on the will of the people, the solar industry—with its relentless prodding, cajoling and pushing—turned that idea on its head. We proved, with more than 16,000 letters to Congressional representatives received in the week leading up to the vote, change can happen. The people’s business can be done. And, in the end, actual bipartisan cooperation is achievable.
So to my fellow solar-industry advocates, I say this: Savor this victory. Your hard work and dedication have paid off, and Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, will be marked as the day when solar cemented its place as the energy source of the United States’ future.
But like any great team, we can’t rest on our laurels. Now that this battle has been won, it’s time to turn our attention again to growing the solar industry beyond its current penetration—by working each day to develop, design, install, finance and service high-quality solar installations and satisfy our customers every day. And I, for one, am looking forward to it.
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