A lot of solar energy business owners across the country are sorry they ever heard about the solar tax incentive proposed by President Carter on April 20.
Ever since the anouncement, their business has dropped off radically.
People are waiting for the legislation to pass before they buy. For the small businesses offering solar products and services, the announcement was the beginning of a long wait - which will probably extend through October or November, if the tax incentive legislatiiion even passes this year.
By that time, the solar selling season will have passed.
Jim Yates Jr. of Yates & Co., whose Cockeysville, Md., firm represents PPG solar equipment and other manufacturers, says small firms are surviving by continuing commercial solar work, but are not getting that much consumer work.
The new solar industry, with its big and small business, is in a state of limbo when it comes to installing home systemss, a state brought on by government in-action, while at the same time, the Energy Research and Development Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are parceling out demonstration grants for such work. Some federal buildings are being converted to solar energy as well.
Applyling for government grants and bidding on commercial/industrial work requires a lot of overhead expense and staying power. It may take a year for a project to bring in badly needed operating capital. Big business and the companies who represent them will be able to survive the winter of 1977, but small business will suffer.
As for any start-up business, the banks and privateetet investors want to see sales as an indication of health to financing of such ventures. Without sales, no company can survive.
Solar firms were rushed by customers after the severe winter, but after April 30, those customers said they would wait for the legislation.
Concerned about the delay, the Solar Energy Industriess Association has asked to have the solar tax incentive broken out of the energy package for a separate vote by Congress.
Everyone assumess that the national need for solar energy is great enough to be incentive for people to become involved. However, as long as financing for solar companies is as difficult to obtain as it is, there will be far too few around to serve the demand for products and services when Congress finally acts.
John McCombs was president of a small solar energy firm for more than two years.