Solar Sustainability Q&A With Ben Zook


The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was just extended and Solar Power World Magazine spoke with Ben Zook about his thoughts and reactions to the bill extension.

Q: What was your initial reaction to the news that an ITC extension will be included in the omnibus spending bill?

Solar Investment Tax Credit What occurred with the sudden boom and bust cycle of the PA Sunshine program is a good example of what not to do with incentives. Back in 2011, Lancaster Online wrote a story that explains a little about that time period. Solar is meant to be sustainable, it is not the best for anyone’s long-term success if incentives come and go quite rapidly. In the past, that up and down ramping introduced some shrewd business practices among some of the solar ‘salesmen’ and even with some customers. I would rather have no government incentives than have them come and go as quickly as the seasons. Even though solar power has solid financials, there are more reasons to use solar power rather than just financial reasons. The temporary credits tend to take the focus off of what really matters with the solar industry or almost any industry; neatness, long-term reliability, performance, user satisfaction, environmental benefits, honesty within the industry… and much, much more.

Q: How do you think the extension will impact Belmont Solar specifically?
A: </strongIt will likely keep materials such as solar modules available for next year, and it will allow better long-term organic growth to occur. There was some concern about about product availability for 2016, and there was also a concern about having enough of projects in 2017 and beyond. The tax credit extension and consecutive step-down plan does not solve everything, but I believe it will help a lot.
Q: Were you ever worried about the ITC and why?
A: It alleviates most of my concerns about supply shortages for next year, and especially with the step-down plan for 2021 it should help solar eventually stand on its own two feet a bit better. In the meantime, some of the subsidies for oil and gas, need to be reduced or eliminated. Solar is meant to be a long-term goal for everyone, not just short-term bursts that have led to sloppy installations, a few questionable dealings, and some solar businesses failing, such as what has occurred in the recent past. Solar is meant to be sustainable for all of us.