The reduction or elimination of several federal energy subsidy programs later this year could further dim prospects for solar power stocks - bad news for a sector already in a months-long slump.
The goal of the programs, which include loan guarantees and grants, was to support the early stage growth of renewable energy companies until they became viable enough to attract conventional investors.
But several of the federal programs created as part of the 2009 stimulus package have expiration dates that assumed the economic woes of the recession would have eased by now.
Instead you have a solar power industry worried about what happens after the programs begin to expire - the first as soon as Sept. 30.
"Is the solar industry going to die if we lose these programs? No, but we're going to stall," Roger Efird, managing director of Suntech America, a subsidiary of Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE ADR: STP) told USA Today.
Helped by such programs, the solar industry grew 67% last year, but could see that growth flatten as cash-strapped governments both in the United States and Europe begin to cut back.