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U.S. Solar Industry Wants Government Bailout As Bankruptcies Loom

·4 min read

Coronavirus is hitting the energy industry hard. First, it instigated a breakup between the OPEC+ countries of Saudi Arabia and Russia, leading to an oil price war which then led to a spectacular oil price crash. Now, the Permian Basin, once the site of an unparalleled shale boom, is currently facing tens of thousands of layoffs. Then it crushed biofuel markets across the world. Now it’s hitting the renewable energy industry, and solar is begging for a bailout. 

While Congress and the White House have finally come to a hard-won agreement on a $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package, negotiated earlier this week, solar and wind did not receive the support they were looking for. “Although some democrats were pushing for solar and wind tax credit extensions to be included in the bill, it appears they didn’t make the final version,” reported Solar Power World. “Still, the solar industry will see some relief in the economy-wide measures included in the bill.”

President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association Abigail Ross Hopper responded: “As Congress continues to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we appreciate that they are prioritizing relief for families and small businesses. There are several elements in this legislation that can help solar businesses and solar workers, including long-term unemployment insurance, business loans and provisions that support employee retention and other employee protections. We will be working to help our members understand what resources are available to them as a result of this legislation and how they can use those resources to help get through this difficult time.

“As a result of this pandemic, the solar industry stands to lose half of our jobs — that’s 125,000 families who will no longer receive a paycheck. Congress can help stem this tide. Economic stimulus legislation can help our companies sustain families and invest tens of billions of dollars into the economy over the next couple of years. We remain committed to helping our economy recover from this pandemic. We fully expect to work with Congress on any broad economic stimulus package. This will ensure that when this awful chapter in America’s history comes to an end, the clean energy economy is well-positioned to lead our nation’s economic recovery.”

Related: How COVID-19 Could Spark The Next Recession

President and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) also issued a statement echoing the urgency of saving the solar industry as so many other energy sectors are also taking a beating. “The renewable energy industry is fully supportive of broad measures to support the economy, protect workers, and ensure the health care system can effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic — which is precisely what the final Senate package is designed to do, he said. “When lawmakers turn their attention to measures aimed at bolstering specific sectors of the economy adversely impacted by coronavirus, we want to make sure they understand how supply chain disruptions and other pandemic-related delays are threatening the jobs of hundreds of thousands of workers in the renewable sector and the time-sensitive tax incentives on which renewable project financing depends. In the end, we’re all in this together and the renewable energy industry wants to be a key economic driver to help the nation through this downturn, as well as an effective climate solution over the long haul.”

The entire solar energy sector seems to be speaking out. In a letter signed by more than 550 solar companies across the United States, the solar industry is pleading with the federal government to provide support to the hundreds of thousands of people employed by the U.S. solar sector, according to Energy Live News.

Keeping the renewable energy sector afloat is essential and letting the solar sector go bankrupt or even shrink by any sizable margin would be a huge misstep at a moment that every economic decision the government makes is under a microscope. 

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com 

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