After working in Mesa Public Schools for 15 years, I finally retired in 2012. One of the best decisions I made just before retirement was to install solar panels on my home in 2010. This has allowed me to save money and take control of where my electricity comes from with a clean energy source. I was able to do this in large part because of the Solar Investment Tax Credit, or ITC.
The ITC allows homeowners like me to receive a tax credit after installing solar. I was able to take a credit of 30% off the upfront cost of my system. Through this process, I experienced how the ITC is a real American success story. It has helped millions of people like me lower and stabilize their electric bills. It has provided good local jobs, like the ones of the team that installed my solar array. These folks improve the health of our community every day by turning our roofs into mini, pollution-free, power plants.
But, if Congress does not act, the ITC will shrink over the next few years before phasing out completely after 2021. This worries me, since I know how important the ITC was in my decision to go solar, and how important it must still be for others.
I remember the feeling of my first electric bill after installing my solar panels. My monthly SRP bill now averages $55 a month for a 1,400-square foot townhome (my installation took place before SRP added charges for new solar customers – a topic for another day). My solar panels also fuel up my electric car; I haven’t pumped or purchased gasoline in 3 years.
Ultimately, the ITC gave me the push I needed to install solar. Once the panels were installed, I immediately knew that I had made the right decision. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to affordably invest in solar, especially in retirement.
I see so much potential for us to benefit from the power of the sun – arguably Arizona’s greatest natural resource. I want to live in a community where every home and business can be solar-powered. The money people can save by going solar can be re-invested in our local economy.
When I was a youngster, adults removed the lead that was in gasoline. By going solar and driving with electricity, I am polluting less and that will benefit the children of today, in a small way.
Alternatively, if Congress does not extend the ITC, we’ll risk losing the health benefits and good local jobs that solar has created. There are more than 450 solar companies in Arizona alone. More than 7,500 work in the industry in the state.
The choice to extend the ITC is clear and the opportunity is now. A bipartisan bill was just introduced in Congress this week to continue the tax credit for another five years. I urge Senator McSally to support solar by backing this important policy effort. By extending the solar ITC, we can help bring this American success story to even more Arizonans.
— Howard Johnson is a Mesa resident.