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U.S. Solar Industry May Add 37,394 Jobs on Grant Extension

A one-year extension of a U.S. Treasury grant program that pays for as much as 30 percent of a solar project’s costs would add 37,394 jobs to the economy next year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The grant program, part of the 2009 economic stimulus package, expires at the end of this year after a one-year extension was passed by congress in December.

An additional extension would boost solar jobs by 12 percent as developers increase installations by 2,000 megawatts, or enough for about 400,000 homes, the Washington-based industry group said today in a statement. More than 100,000 Americans work in the solar industry, double the number in 2009, said Rhone Resch, SEIA’s chief executive officer.

“Much of the jobs and industry growth has come out of that program,” Resch said today in a media briefing. “The last thing the government should do in a fragile economy is eliminate a tax break that creates jobs.”

The solar industry has stepped up efforts to lobby for an extension of the incentive program in the wake of Solyndra LLC’s bankruptcy last month. The solar company borrowed $527 million against a $535 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee, and its failure prompted criticism from Republican lawmakers.

SEIA has more than 1,000 members and spent about $780,000 on lobbying in the first half of this year, more than the $630,000 spent in all of 2007, according to Senate records.

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