Archived Story

Stabenow, Camp work to pump Michigan’s solar power

Published 8:00am Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For some, last week’s announcement of the country’s unemployment rate tipping over the 10 percent mark only solidified the suspicion that jobs are not returning to America’s workforce.
So lawmakers continue to look for ways to entice businesses to set up shop or expand their current operations in the hope that it will put men and women back to work.

In Michigan especially, communities from east to west are reeling from the manufacturing and auto industry losses.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) and Congressman Dave Camp (R) showed their interest Tuesday in finding ways to fuel new business with the announcement of the Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act.

An announcement by Congress stated “the bi-partisan legislation will provide a tax credit to support solar manufacturing here at home. These tax incentives will encourage more U.S. companies to produce solar equipment, creating jobs and investing in the clean energy economy.”

“Michigan companies continue to lead the way in solar manufacturing, creating good-paying jobs and laying the foundation for 21st century manufacturing,” Stabenow said. “As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I co-authored the first-ever tax credit for manufacturers of advanced technologies in the recovery act. This bill will provide additional tax credits for solar equipment manufacturers that will help us win the global race against China and other countries to produce solar technology in the clean energy economy.”

Camp also commented on the legislation, saying, “Michigan is fast becoming a leader in solar manufacturing, and this will further help this industry grow and create much needed jobs. This solar credit will not only help create jobs but help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. As the author of the tax credit for the purchase of electric plug-in vehicles and other alternative fuel vehicles, I have long championed incentives for the manufacture and use of alternative fuels.”

Michiana is no stranger to such companies. Inovateus Solar and American Green Technology are just two such area businesses.

And though the legislation is very marginalized, leaving other small businesses still in the dark when it comes to incentives or options that might help expand operations or create jobs, one might say that it is a small step toward solving a very big problem.

“In addition to the tax abatements and tax credits already available to manufacturers through State of Michigan incentive programs, federal tax credits may energize the solar manufacturers and increase the likelihood of their success, growth, and subsequent job creation,” said Shelley Klug, executive director of the Southwest Michigan Economic Growth Alliance.

“The State of Michigan has had alternative energy designated as a focus area for some time but we only have a few companies in southwest Michigan moving into that industry,” she continued. “I would really like this new tax credit to enable existing Michigan companies to expand and encourage new businesses to start-up or move here.”

According to Congress, the United States is losing the global race for solar technology as other countries provide incentives to invest in solar manufacturing, citing information from the Solar Energy Industry Association, which reportedly stated that the U.S. produced more than 40 percent of the world’s solar photovoltaic cells a decade ago. The Association also found that in 2008, the U.S. produced only 5 percent of the world’s solar cells. They estimate that the tax credits in this legislation will generate 315,000 new domestic jobs.

Currently, a 30 percent Solar Investment Tax Credit (SITC) exists for the investment in or installation of solar power technology.

The Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act would include equipment and facilities used to manufacture solar power technology on the eligible property list for the SITC. These technologies include solar cells, silicon, evacuated tubes and flat-plate solar collectors.

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