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The Solar Industry … powered by the Sun and NOW Congress! On December 16, 2015, Congress approved a surprising extension of By Pamela Garcia, Founder, Simmitri. the Federal Investment Tax Credit or ITC. The ITC encourages the use of renewable energy, including solar energy, to help newer technologies gain traction in the marketplace, in the shortest amount of time possible. The energy ITC pro- gram provides a 30 percent federal tax credit to customers who choose to install a solar system on their home or business. For example, a $20,000 solar system would receive a total of $6,000 in tax credits, bringing the cost of the system down to $14,000. Along with the reduced cash pur- chase amount made possible by the ITC, there are a myriad of no money down, low interest loan finance options, along with lease options available that require nothing out of pocket. The monthly payments for these options are generally smaller than the current charges for electricity to customers of PG&E. This makes solar affordable to almost anyone who wants to lower their elec- tricity bill, avoid the inevitable increased charges over time, and reduce their dependence on the utility company. With the ITC Extension taking place, Simmitri is a Silicon Valley Corporation, birthed in the Gilroy/Morgan Hill area, in 1995, that helps it’s residential and commercial cli- entele harness Solar Energy Technology in all its forms today, and into the future. not only are customers benefitted immediately, but the solar industry is expected to grow by leaps and bounds. It is projected that by 2022, the solar industry would generate enough electricity to power 19 million homes. Every year, solar power would offset 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, equivalent to closing 26 coal-fired power plants or taking 20 million cars off the roads. This protects the environment by reducing air pollution, environmental contami- nants responsible for water pollution, and our overwhelming dependence on fossil fuels. According to Solar Energy Industries Association , direct impact and results of the ITC involves powerful growth in solar installations which has fueled dramatic job creation. Solar employment has grown by 86 percent in the last four years and is creating jobs at a rate nearly 20 times higher than employment growth in the overall economy. The existence of the ITC through 2016 provides a confidence for solar companies to develop long-term investments in the market, which in turn, lowers costs for consumers. 54 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2016 If you are one of the many customers currently investigating solar, a key objective should be to look for a company, like Simmitri, Inc., that believes in overall energy management, not solar alone, as the best solution. The majority of solar companies don’t even address the reason for a high electric bill in the first place, thus their criteria for moving forward in design of a solar system is based on incomplete data. An electricity bill alone is just not enough! It’s imperative to review the overall energy efficiency of a home PRIOR to designing and installing a solar system . If that means, designing a smaller solar system is the right thing to do based on consumption analysis, then that is the approach that should be taken. As important as design and implementation of solar is , it’s just as important to look at the responsiveness of a company, and what the ongoing support of the customer looks like, AFTER the sale. How engaged is the company post-sale? Most customers have found that the answer to that question is almost inevitably, “not very.” It is imperative to find a company that is committed to the customer relationship, throughout the process and thereafter. Also, one that provides “broad” expertise and documented, long-term warranty programs in all aspects of energy management - roofs, solar and solar energy storage. Finally, look for con- viction on the part of the company to provide a personal customized solution as needed — that stands in stark contrast to the production type, cookie cutter, “one size fits all” approach of BIG SOLAR (companies), and most smaller ones as well. The best solar companies , like Simmitri, will assist you in making an informed decision about your energy solutions, craft a plan on how to reduce consumption before producing with Solar, and help you save the most money on your electric bill.