It’s been one year since the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was passed, marking the United States’ largest investment in renewable energy and electrification. Let’s take a look at what the bill has done for our collective effort to build an equitable, electric future, and identify the places where we are still falling short.
The IRA bill has been positive for renewable energy’s growth in the U.S. by making it more cost effective for people and businesses to transition to clean energy like solar. This will help decrease our country’s projected carbon emissions and combat the growing onslaught of climate disasters.
However, if we don’t grow awareness of renewable energy products and incentives, we risk alienating a large segment of the population from the renewable energy movement.
Coming on the heels of the United States’ disastrous departure from the Paris Climate Agreements, the passing of the IRA bill signaled our country’s continued commitment to fighting the climate crisis by shifting away from fossil fuel dependency and investing in renewable energy. The bipartisan bill provided $700 billion in funding for clean energy projects, grid improvements, domestic manufacturing, and workforce development. While it lacked a significant focus on climate justice, the bill dedicated $369 billion to “Energy Security and Climate Change” to make the clean energy transition more accessible, inclusive, and effective.
Most notably for our customers and community, the IRA extended the Solar Tax Credit, renamed the Renewable Clean Energy Tax Credit, which is now available at 30% until 2033. It also created new tax credits and incentives for other clean energy and household electrification products like heat pumps and induction stoves.
In the year since its passing, we can see the positive impacts of these new and expanded programs, which have enabled states to double down on their climate goals. For example, Maine has already exceeded its goal of installing 100,000 air source heat pumps by the year 2025. It has upped its goal to 175,000 heat pumps by 2027.
The IRA, alongside a flurry of state climate bills, is also projected to help drive down carbon emissions in the U.S. Before the bill, we were on track to reduce emissions by 26% to 41% by 2035. Now we are projected to cut emissions by 32% to 51%, according to a report published by The Rhodium Group, an independent analytic company that tracks fossil fuel emissions produced by the U.S.
The bill has increased access to affordable clean energy, decreasing costs and allowing companies like ReVision Energy to expand their business and advance their missions. The incentives have helped lower the cost of renewable energy (solar by nearly 40% and wind by 55%), furthering the momentum of renewable energy investments.
Although solar is more affordable than ever, many people are still not aware of the IRA incentives. According to a June 2023 study by SunPower, over 60% of Americans who are considering solar would make the switch if they received some sort of government incentive; they are unaware of the incentives provided by the IRA. 24% of people who know of the IRA bill don’t believe the clean energy incentives apply to them. 52% aren’t aware that the IRA contains any clean energy benefits (SunPower ESI report).
The report also shows that those poised to benefit the most from clean energy incentives (low-to-moderate-income communities, women and minorities, and younger generations) are least familiar with the bill’s benefits. As we continue to grow awareness of the benefits of solar and other renewable energies, we also need to make an effort to ensure everyone understands the incentives and can access these benefits.
Without increased focus on collective, inclusive change, we will not move away from our carbon-based systems, we will not gain energy independence and security, and we will fall short of the emission reductions needed to build a livable, equitable future. Falling short will result in rising global temperatures and an increase in the climate disasters we are already experiencing: extreme heat, flooding and landslides, and harmful effects from wildfires. From June to August, we have seen devastating effects of the climate crisis, and even worse, a summer like this will “feel like a mild summer” in twenty years. Luckily, it’s not too late to do something.
Solar Champions Dana and Paula Ward meet Sunsquatch at a recent community event. There has never been a greater urgency to educate people on the value of solar. At ReVision, our teams are focused on sharing information with our communities about solar and home energy efficiency products, and their costs, savings, and benefits. However, we can’t grow our mission alone. We need you, our Solar Champions, to help us spread the excitement of solar energy! Do your friends and family know about the clean energy incentives in the IRA? Are they interested in solar but worried about cost?
Here are some resources you can share with your community about the IRA incentives and the benefits of solar:
If you have a friend or family member who is ready to turn their solar dream into a reality, refer them through our Share the Sun program (you’ll get $250 when they go solar with us!)