As with any new technology or market trend, business leaders have the opportunity to lead, follow or get out of the way. There has never been a better time to be a leader in promoting solar energy in North Carolina. Here are four reasons I can think of right away:

Solar energy is here to stay
Thanks to generous federal and state tax incentive programs designed to stimulate the growth of renewable energy, solar power is here to stay. Adoption rates are rising among utility companies and businesses that have high electricity costs. Materials and installation costs have dropped almost 50% in the past five years and attractive financing options are available. Increasing EPA restrictions requiring utility companies to derive even more power generation from renewable sources. Solar isn’t going anywhere. It’s time to get on the bandwagon.

Solar energy incentives won’t last forever
As with all startups, solar energy will begin to lose its incentives and attractive financing once it becomes a mainstream technology. Federal incentive programs will be drastically reduced for commercial installations at the end of 2016; North Carolina’s 35% tax credit expires completely at the end of this year. Between government tax incentives and the resulting reductions in corporate tax liabilities, businesses can cover nearly two-thirds of the cost of a commercial solar installation. And the ROI is around 14%. By any measure, it’s a smart business decision, particularly when the government is underwriting it. If you’re going to introduce solar into your portfolio, now is the time to do it.

Solar energy can create jobs
Forget the environmental benefits for a moment. Solar energy is good for the economy in general. By providing a stable, cost-effective alternative energy source, solar energy allows businesses to redirect their financial resources toward capital improvements, business expansion and creating new jobs, which grow the economy. In fact, one of the two goals of the federal government’s stimulus program, which includes billions in tax credits and incentives for alternative energy, is creating jobs.

Solar energy is good public policy
From fracking to coal emissions, there is plenty of discussion about the need for clean energy, at BOTH the state and federal levels. Why should care? Simple: In today’s era of heightened environmental awareness, you can lead, follow or get out of the way, and that’s how you’ll be viewed by regulators, customers and employees. I’d rather lead. How about you?

Have you invested in solar? Are you thinking about it? What are you waiting for?