Solar is growing quickly in the United States.
Assisted by technological innovation and years of government subsidies, the cost of solar power — and wind power — has fallen sharply, so much so that the two industries say that they can sometimes deliver cleaner electricity at prices competitive with power made from fossil fuels.
At the same time, solar and wind power companies are telling Congress that they cannot be truly competitive and keep creating jobs without a few more years of government support.
The growth of solar power was helped by a federal stimulus package that extended a tax credit and provided other investment incentives for the industry. A one-year extension of the 1603 tax-grant program is expected to create an additional 37,000 solar industry jobs in 2012, according to a report by EuPD Research.
But the lobbying by the wind and solar industries comes at a time when there is little enthusiasm for alternative-energy subsidies in Washington.
Overall concerns about the deficit are making lawmakers more skeptical about any new tax breaks for business in general. And taxpayer losses of more than half a billion dollars on Solyndra, a