House Unveils New Renewable Energy Legislation

Earlier this week Democratic House leaders unveiled a bill that would extend tax credits for investment in solar and wind power projects as well as energy-efficient buildings. The bill, which was originally on the schedule for this week, may not be taken up until the end of the month due to other house business and scheduling conflicts.

The proposed Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008 is modeled after the same plan that resulted in Senate opposition last year, repealing certain tax benefits that oil and gas companies currently receive, though these have been scaled back from the original version.

The bill would extend the 30% investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy property and qualified fuel cell property for eight years (through the end of 2016). It also includes a long-term extension and modification of the production tax credit (PTC), extending for three years (through December 31, 2011) certain qualifying facilities such as wind, closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, geothermal, small irrigation hydropower, landfill gas and trash combustion facilities. It also includes a new category of qualifying facilities: marine renewables (e.g., waves and tides). The bill would cap the aggregate amount of tax credits that can be earned at 35% of the facility’s cost.

A long-term extension and modification of the residential energy-efficient property credit is also included. The credit for residential solar property would be extended for six years (through the end of 2014) and the annual credit cap (currently $2,000) would increase to $4,000. Residential small wind equipment and geothermal heat pumps would also qualify for this credit.

The bill also establishes a $4,000 credit for plug-in hybrid vehicles.

According to Gregory Wetstone, Senior Director for Public and Government Affairs with the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), “Extension of the renewable energy tax incentives will be welcome news to the millions of Americans across the political spectrum who overwhelmingly support clean, home-grown wind and solar energy. Renewable energy can lower home energy bills, strengthen our energy security, create tens of thousands of new manufacturing jobs and reduce global warming pollution even as we meet growing electricity demand.”

“We look forward to working with the broad range of wind and solar energy supporters on both sides of the aisle to move the renewable tax credit extension through the House, the Senate and all the way into law,” Wetstone said.

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