Washington, DC [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] In a flurry of activity, the U.S. Senate voted down two amendments yesterday that would have created $32 billion worth of energy tax incentives and a National Renewable Energy Portfolio (RPS) requiring utilities to generate 15% of electricity from renewables by 2020. Later that same evening however, the Senate passed H.R. 6, the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007, 65-27.
The Clean Energy Act of 2007 is designed to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, developing greater efficiency and creating a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve.
But two key amendments that would have provided billions of dollars worth of incentives and revenue for the U.S. renewable energy industry were rejected. The Energy Tax Package—approved by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and House Ways & Mean committee earlier this week—contained a five-year extension of the tax credit for the production of electricity from wind, geothermal, biomass as well as the solar ITC extension.
Introduced by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the National Journal’s Congress Daily reported today that supporters of the “Baucus Amendment” were unable to get the 60 votes needed to limit debate and attach it to the larger bill.
“The tax provisions were rejected due to controversy over the revenue raisers or ‘pay-fors’ in the bill. Under current rules, any tax cuts that decrease tax revenue to the Treasury have to be paid for through some other offsetting measure,” said Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President Rhone Resch in a statement released today.
“Ultimately, we are still optimistic,” concluded Resch. “We have developed a strong and vocal group of solar champions in Congress, and the solar ITC provisions passed by the two tax committees clearly demonstrate recognition that Congress must enact a long-term solar energy policy. The reasons for failure are unrelated to the solar provisions and while we are disappointed that the provisions are not passing now, we are confident that we will succeed in the end.”
A spokesman in Senator Bingaman’s office also confirmed this morning that Bingaman’s RPS proposal was included in a list of amendments officially ruled dead yesterday for “not being germane” to the bill.