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Democrats aim to boost solar roof tiles in U.S. budget bill

·2 min read

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A pair of Democrats hope to expand a U.S. federal renewable energy tax credit to make it easier for consumers to install roofs with solar shingles like those made by Tesla Inc and GAF Energy, betting it will boost a nascent segment of the industry. 

  The bill, introduced by New Jersey Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill and Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff, would expand the solar tax credit for residential consumers and small businesses to include entire roofing systems that integrate solar power technology. 

  The current 26% tax credit only covers the solar roof tiles, but not other parts of the roof, something the industry sees as an obstacle to attracting new customers. 

  The lawmakers see a good chance the measure will be folded into the Democrats' budget reconciliation bill, which is expected to carry out some of President Joe Biden's key climate change measures affecting power and transport. 

  "It's these kinds of fixes to the tax code that can really spur innovation," said Sherrill, whose district includes GAF's headquarters. "I want GAF and others to be producing those solar roof tiles across the nation and across the world." 

  She said she met with GAF on the topic in May. 

  Companies such as Tesla and GAF are selling solar roof tiles but have been slow to attract customers. 

  The solar investment tax credit is scheduled to be phased out for residential systems in 2024. Biden has pushed for a 10-year extension of the credit. 

  GAF, a unit of private conglomerate Standard Industries, is among the farthest along in developing the technology. The company has installed its product on more than 2,000 U.S. rooftops, it told Reuters in May. 

  Tesla has been installing its solar roof product for about three years but has not disclosed how many it has put up. The company did not respond to a request for comment. 

  "This is forward-looking legislation, anticipating how the technology will progress," Ossoff said. 

  (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Nichola Groom; editing by Richard Pullin) 

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