Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Renewable Energy Tax Extenders Bill (H.R. 6049) Passes Senate 93-2

Sep 23: With praise and support from both Democrats and Republicans, at about 6 PM on Tuesday, the Senate unanimously (93-2, 5 not voting) passed the so-called "tax extenders" package that includes extensions for key renewable energy technologies like wind, solar and biomass. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced the bipartisan agreement that also included an update of the alternative minimum tax rules and continued tax cuts for college tuition, state and local sales taxes, and research and development for U.S. businesses on September 16 [See WIMS 9/18/08].

The bill, H.R. 6049 (Senate Substitute, Energy and Tax Extenders Act of 2008, [
See WIMS 9/22/08] extends the placed-in service date for the credit through December 31, 2009 in the case of wind and refined coal, and through December 31, 2010 in the case of other sources. The measure extends the 30 percent investment tax credit for solar energy property and qualified fuel cell property, as well as the 10 percent investment tax credit for micro-turbines, through 2016. The bill extends the credit for residential solar property through 2016, and removes the credit cap (currently $2,000) for solar electric investments. The bill increases the $500 per half kilowatt of capacity cap for qualified fuel cells to $1,500 per half kilowatt of capacity, and adds small commercial wind as a category of qualified investment. The bill adds residential small wind investment, capped at $4,000, and geothermal heat pumps, capped at $2,000, as qualifying property. With respect to vehicles, the bill establishes a new credit for plug-in electric drive vehicles and the credit for passenger vehicles and light trucks ranges from $2,500 to $7,500.

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “I am pleased that Senate Republicans have finally recognized -- after blocking nine Democratic efforts to invest in clean, renewable energy sources -- the importance of making America more energy independent, strengthening our national security and creating good-paying jobs here at home. This bill will help us harness the power of the wind, the sun, geothermal and other sources of clean, renewable energy. . . "

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “The taxpayer can claim a major accomplishment today. At a time of high economic anxiety, this tax relief extension bill encourages greater energy independence, delivers much-needed relief to job creators across the country, and it ensures a much smaller tax bill for millions of American families. The Senate had been deadlocked on the provisions contained in this bill for months. But in the end, senators on both sides of the aisle shut out the partisan rancor of the presidential election, hammered out a compromise, and delivered. And the result is a tribute to all the senators and the many staffers on both sides who worked so hard to get us here. . . "

At a press conference Democratic Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Ken Salazar (D-CO) joined Greg Wetstone of the American Wind Energy Association, Karl Gawell of the Geothermal Energy Association and Kateri Callahan of the Alliance to Save Energy all applauded the bill. Senator Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said, “I have long maintained that targeted tax incentives are an essential element of a bold new energy policy for our country. These incentives’ will play a critical role in promoting clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and in turn reducing our reliance on conventional fuels, promoting a more secure energy supply and combating global warming. Equally important, these tax credits will create high-paying jobs and reduce energy costs for all Americans.”

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, applauded passage of the bill. “At long last, both parties have joined together to extend the essential tax credits for renewable energy, which were set to expire at the end of the year. Renewables like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal will play an essential role in our energy future, and the renewable energy tax credits are necessary to help these industries continue to grow. I am pleased that the Senate has passed this extension, and I look forward to quick action in the House.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a release saying, "We are encouraged that the Senate is taking action to promote the creation of clean energy solutions that our country urgently needs, but it’s too bad they are tossing some of dirty fuels into the mix. This bill will spur increased energy efficiency and the production of renewable energy technologies, which are keys for creating new jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Unfortunately, the bill also supports increased subsidies for dirty fuels -- like oil shale, tar sands and liquid coal -- that can cause twice the global warming pollution as conventional oil. As the bill moves to the House, we ask Representatives to strip away the dirty energy provisions that won’t help people at the pump and won’t move America to a new clean energy future.”

Access legislative details for H.R. 6049 (
click here). Access a 7-page Senate Finance Committee staff summary of the energy aspects of the bill (click here). Access a release from Senator Reid (click here). Access a release from Senator McConnell (click here). Access a release from Senator Domenici (click here). Access a release from the Democratic Senators' press conference (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). [*Energy]