Friday, October 03, 2008

Renewable Energy Tax Extenders Pass As Part Of "Rescue" Bill

Oct 3: The Renewable Energy Tax Extenders as contained in the recently approved Senate Bill (H.R. 6049) [See WIMS 9/24/08] have finally been approved as part of the Revised Federal Intervention In Financial Markets Bill (H.R. 1424). The measure was approved on October 1, in the Senate by a vote of 74-25 (with Senator Kennedy not voting). Senators McCain, Obama, and Biden all voted in favor of the bill. In the House, the measure was approved by a vote of 263-171 this afternoon (October 3, 2008), and was signed immediately by the President.

The tax extenders portion of 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.

The so-called "tax extenders" bill was worked out between Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who reached an agreement with the Senate’s Democratic and Republican leadership. The measure passed the Senate 93-2 on September 23. A much more controversial Democratic counter measure -- the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Tax Act of 2008 (H.R. 7060) -- was approved in the House on September 26, by a vote of 257-166, mostly along party lines. The controversial provisions would have closed what Democrats called "loopholes that allow corporations and executives to avoid U.S. taxes by shipping jobs and investment overseas and curtailing unnecessary tax subsidies for big, multinational oil and gas companies."

Karen Wayland, Legislative Director for Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), issued a statement regarding the inclusion what she said are "tax incentives for dirty fuels" in the economic recovery package. She said, "Dirty fuels -- like oil shale, tar sands and liquid coal -- have no business in a clean energy package, and they certainly don't belong in the economic bailout bill. Taxpayers are already paying a high price for the current economic crisis, and they shouldn't have to pay more to Big Oil and its allies. Despite important incentives for clean, renewable energy, Congress is taking a step backward by assisting the producers of dirty, expensive and inefficient fuels."

Access legislative details for H.R. 1424 with links to the roll call votes (click here). Access a 7-page Senate Finance Committee staff detailed summary of the Energy-related provisions of the Energy and Tax Extenders Act of 2008 (click here). Access the statement from NRDC (click here). [*Energy, Et. Al.]