SunPower CEO: No U.S. Solar Incentives? No Solar For You

The CEO of SunPower Tom Werner said this week that if the U.S. federal government doesn’t renew the investment tax credit (ITC) that provides 30 percent on the investment of solar, the company will be forced to move its business “elsewhere” to make up for that. Every company in the solar industry is worrying over this subsidy that is set to expire by the end of the year, but if you’re as big and seemingly global as SunPower, you can make up for a potentially lost subsidy by focusing on markets outside of the U.S.

At the Jefferies 5th Global Clean Tech Conference this morning Werner said “If the ITC doesn’t happen, we can move our business elsewhere and make up for that. Is that a preferred solution? No. Does America lose jobs with that? Yes. But can we as a company hit ’08 and ’09 without the ITC? Yes.” When a solar industry leader says the company could be forced to potentially ignore its own domestic market, that’s a depressing thought for the entire solar ecosystem.

Werner repeated the sentiments earlier this week in an interview with Reuters stating: “We control our own destiny, (and) we’ll be able to enter other new markets rapidly.” He specified that a lost ITC would affect the company’s business and commercial markets more than residential, and said it could easily focus more on Italy, Greece, France and Australia.

SunPower isn’t the only company concerned. Back in January at the Concentrated Solar Power’s U.S. summit in San Francisco the President and CEO of solar thermal company Solel Avi Brenmiller said that if there is no ITC, the company won’t be able to build a planned 553 MW solar project. At the same summit Donna Flynn, Washington Council for Ernst & Young, made a more dire pronouncement for the solar industry: “We need something before July 1st or we’re going to die.”


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