As most of you know by now, I am a passionate advocate for extending the investment tax credit (ITC), which has been the single most-effective lever to grow the solar industry for the past seven years. And now we stand on the precipice of passing an eight-year extension — just the boost the industry needs to keep it flourishing until we don’t need a solar-specific 30% ITC any more.

The ITC has been the driving force behind the explosion of growth in the utility-scale and commercial solar markets (as well as residential). It provides developers with, as the name implies, tax credits for the development of solar projects. In other words, companies that invest in solar can lower their federal taxes. Since corporations are always looking to lower their taxes, this encourages them to install solar.

Right now, the ITC, which is 30 percent, has been attached to the $1.1 trillion Omnibus Spending Bill, will be voted on tomorrow.

The bill will provide extensions for both section 48 and 25d over the following schedule:

●     2017 – 30%

●     2018 – 30%

●     2019 – 30%

●     2020 – 26%

●     2021 – 22%

Beyond that:

●     The bill modifies the tax code to allow for commence construction as long as the project is placed in service by Dec. 31, 2023.

●     The permanent 10 percent remains in place for the commercial credit under Section 48.

I’ve told you how much it means. I’ve told you supporting it should be part of your job, not ancillary to it. I’ve said you should consider the ITC unemployment insurance.

And you listened. The solar industry sent 16,000 letters just in the last week to their representatives asking them to support an extension, and it clearly got the attention of enough legislators to get it into the bill (which is a huge accomplishment by itself).

But we’re not quite done. It’s time for us to push this extension over the finish line. It’s not a done deal until the votes are counted — so make those final calls right now to your representatives and ask them to make sure the extension stays in the bill, no matter how hard the fossil fuels industry tries to scuttle it at the last minute. This fight is still in our hands, and one last push will help us win. And here’s an incredibly persuasive argument you can use during this final, critical push:

The solar industry won’t need the 30% ITC forever.

But Tony, you’re saying to yourselves, aren’t you the one who has beaten the drums for ITC passage? Who got four ovations at Solar Power International when you talked about it? Who gives speech after impassioned speech on why the ITC needed to be extended or else the whole solar industry would cease to be?

Yes. Yes I am. But the two positions are by no means mutually exclusive. Let me explain.

The 30% ITC was never meant to be a permanent subsidy for the solar industry, and other factors are already helping solar spread far and wide. Installation costs have plummeted so that solar isn’t solely the province of the wealthy anymore. Middle-class and lower-class families can see solar in their futures. Panel prices have dropped by more than 50% in the past five years. Prices on other components like racking systems and inverters continue to come down, too.

The stickiest issue, unfortunately, is still the soft costs associated with installing solar. Permitting. Design. Inspections. Unnecessary hoops created by authorities-having-jurisdiction (AHJs) because they don’t (yet) understand the solar industry (to be clear: that is not their fault – we just must do a better job of educating them).  We are working on bringing those costs down. It will take time. So we still need the greater than 10% ITC for the next five years.

By then Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) will have kicked in and accelerated the development of solar to meet the aggressive carbon-reduction targets the United States has set for itself in last week’s Paris climate agreement (and congratulations to the United Nations and the 196 countries that signed on to that historic agreement), so the outsized solar ITC will have a natural sunset clause built into it. This should appeal to representatives who are afraid to write an open-ended check to support solar.

Ladies and gentlemen of the solar industry, we are within hours of getting an early Christmas present — the extension of the ITC we have dreamed about for the past two years. One more push is all I’m asking from you. If we make this happen, we will all have a happy New Year in 2016.