North Carolina generates more solar energy than any state except California. Thousands of people work in the solar sector.

Unfortunately, the solar Investment Tax Credit, which has propelled much of this job creation and economic expansion here in North Carolina, is set to gradually scale down over the next few years.

In the Senate, there’s a bill to extend the credit. It enjoys considerable support — but lacks Republican co-sponsors. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr could protect North Carolina workers and small businesses, safeguard the environment and fuel the state’s economy by signing onto the legislation.

Congress created this tax credit with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2005. It helps homeowners and businesses purchase solar energy systems. For every dollar spent on a solar system, homeowners and business owners can utilize the credit to lower the cost of their investment by 30%.

The credit has supercharged the solar industry — and the economy. Since it was enacted, the U.S. solar industry has grown 10,000%. Almost 6% of our state’s energy comes from solar — enough to power nearly 680,000 homes.

Today, over 242,000 Americans work in the solar sector, with nearly 7,000 of them in the Tar Heel state. That includes the nearly 200 people employed in the state by our company, Powerhome Solar. And a quarter of North Carolina’s clean energy jobs are located in rural areas. That’s exactly the type of economic opportunity the state hopes green energy will create.

Solar has proven to be a great investment for homeowners and business owners from both a financial and an environmental perspective. Customers have the chance to save money on their electric bills and do something good for the planet’s health.

With the right policy tools, we can build more solar in the state, create more jobs and boost our economy. But if the demand for solar panels declines, installation businesses small and large across North Carolina may be forced to lay off workers and cancel projects.

The solar tax credit is one of the most successful clean energy policies in history. It’s hard to understand why Congress would hesitate to extend a credit that enjoyed such broad bipartisan support, especially since a majority of Republican voters believe we should be addressing the impacts of a changing climate.

Thankfully, Congress may soon take up the Renewable Energy Extension Act of 2019. This bill has garnered bipartisan support in the House, where it boasts 70 co-sponsors, including over a dozen Republicans.

Sen. Thom Tillis has already worked to boost renewable energy production in the state. He can be a leader in bringing jobs to North Carolina, which will help him in both primary voting and a general election.

Sen. Richard Burr can solidify his legacy by doing the same.

Extending the solar credit would fuel the economy and help reduce emissions. It’s a no-brainer.

Jayson Waller is the CEO of Powerhome Solar. Kevin Klink is the COO of Powerhome Solar. Steve Murphy is the president of Powerhome Solar.

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