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Solar City CEO says tax credits will help tranform the energy industry

Chris Caya WBFO News

Solar City CEO and co-founder Lyndon Rive met with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer at the company's new RiverBend plant in South Buffalo on Tuesday.

Rive was in Paris for the recent climate talks and he says it was "amazing" to see world leaders taking climate change seriously. Two weeks later, Congress approved extending the Solar Investment Tax Credit.

"This clearly sends a message to the rest of the world that the U.S. is taking climate change seriously. That we're doing everything that we can to transform our energy infrastructure. There will be fights. There will be resistance in transforming it. But it's the right move," Rive said.

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
Lyndon Rive, Co-Founder and CEO of Solar City, outside the company's new RiverBend facility in South Buffalo.

As part of the long-term ITC, businesses and residents that install a solar system will qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit. Rive says it will allow solar to grow and create thousands of additional jobs. But he says critics always ask him, 'How long will solar need incentives?'

"Why aren't we asking the same question on fossil fuel. It's been incentivized for the last 80 years. And there's no expiration on the incentives for fossil fuels. The incentives go so deep you can't even track it," Rive said. 

Riev says it's not just in America, it's worldwide. In his native South Africa, about one-third of the cost of coal is paid for by the government. Given the threat that climate change poses, he says it will be "bad for humanity" if solar is not adopted. 

SolarCity's plant on South Park Avenue is slated to open in 2017.