What happened 

Shares of solar stocks jumped across the board today on positive rumors from Washington, D.C. Shares of solar energy stocks have run up ahead of the election of President-elect Joe Biden, and we may be getting some early returns from that election in a bill working its way through Congress. 

SunPower led the charge higher by climbing as much as 18.9% today, but Sunrun, Canadian Solar, Enphase Energy, and Daqo New Energy all jumped double digits, with SolarEdge Technologies following close behind. 

Stock Change at High Change at Close
SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) 18.9% 13.1%
Sunrun (NASDAQ:RUN) 11.9% 10.6%
SolarEdge Technologies (NASDAQ:SEDG) 7.9% 7%
Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) 11.7% 11.3%
Enphase Energy (NASDAQ:ENPH) 11.4% 10.6%
Daqo New Energy (NYSE:DQ) 17.9% 16%

Data source: Yahoo! Finance. 

So what

Multiple media reports from Washington, D.C., say that congressional leaders are going to potentially link an extension of solar tax credits to a COVID-19 stimulus bill. The solar investment tax credit moved down from 30% in 2019 to 26% in 2020; it's set to decline to 21% in 2021, and then 10% for commercial and utility-scale projects and 0% for residential projects in 2022. It's not yet clear what level an extension would be at, but any extension would be good news for solar companies

The direct impact of higher subsidies won't hit solar companies evenly. SunPower and Sunrun have a lot to gain from residential and commercial subsidies, where they're providing tax and debt financing as well as installation services. Manufacturers like Canadian Solar, SolarEdge, Enphase, and Daqo could see higher demand if developers build more solar projects because they're more cost-effective. 

Roof with solar panels on a partly sunny day

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

No law has been passed yet, so investors are getting out ahead of any policy changes right now. And it's worth considering that solar energy stocks had a strong run-up in the summer and fall in anticipation of Biden's election. 

I also don't want to overlook the potentially positive impact increased subsidies could have on solar energy companies. Demand has started to pick up in the last couple of years after tariffs hit in 2017. And if tariffs are reduced, subsidies are increased, and positive policies are put in place by the Biden administration, it could create a multiyear tailwind for the industry in the U.S. 

Given the U.S. focus of the news today, SunPower and Sunrun clearly have the most to gain, but if a compromise does pass Congress in the next few weeks, including an extension for solar subsidies, it would be great for the industry long term. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.