By a vote of 84-12, with four senators not voting, the Senate on April 10 passed the Clean Energy Stimulus Act of 2008, which extends renewable energy tax incentives.
The bill, which Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and John Ensign, R-Nev., introduced as an amendment to the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, provides for the continuation of renewable energy production incentives. The amendment extends the production tax credit for electricity produced from renewable sources including wind, biomass, hydropower and geothermal and the 30% investment credit for businesses that install solar or fuel cell equipment. In addition, it extends a set of effective energy efficiency programs that give homeowners tax credits for installing energy efficient furnaces, windows and insulation.
“The renewable and efficiency industries have been soaring, creating thousands of jobs and diversifying our energy supply,” Cantwell said in a news release following passage of the amendment. “At a time when people are uncertain about our economy’s future, we rose to the challenge and came to agree that losing valuable investment dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs is not the answer.”
Earlier this year, Cantwell spearheaded efforts to include the energy tax incentives in the economic stimulus package. While the incentives were included in the Finance Committee package, Cantwell noted that it fell one vote short of passage in the final economic stimulus bill.
“Today, we’re hostage to skyrocketing foreign energy prices. That’s why it’s so important that our bill is signed into law,” Ensign said in a news release. “Without action, key incentives expire, and much development toward renewable energy will slow. In some instances, it could stop. We only have a small window of time to provide the certainty needed to continue investing in, producing and developing renewable energy.”
Ensign said that the bill extends the placed-in-service deadline through 2009 for the production tax credit to encourage electricity production using geothermal, wind, biomass and hydropower resources. “These renewable energy plants will have valuable tax stability for 10 years. Extending the solar and fuel cell investment tax credit for eight years also encourages tremendous development of these technologies,” he said.
The American Wind Energy Association praised the efforts of Cantwell and Ensign in moving the bill through the Senate and called on the House to follow suit. “We look forward now to working with our many friends in the U.S. House of Representatives to move this bill forward, spurring economic growth and creating jobs even as we move the reduce global warming pollution,” said Gregory Wetstone, AWEA’s senior director of governmental and public affairs. “Extension of the renewable energy tax incentives would be welcome news to the millions of Americans across the political spectrum who overwhelmingly support clean, home-grown wind and solar energy. Every day of delay tolls a greater risk on investments in new clean energy projects and manufacturing facilities.”
By Kathleen Hart
10 April 2008