U.S. Senate Introduces Bipartisan Renewable Energy Tax Credit Legislation

United States Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John Ensign (R-NV) have introduced the Clean Energy Stimulus Act of 2008. The bill, which has bipartisan support extends the commercial Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar and fuel cell projects for eight years and removes the utility exemption.

The bill authored by Ensign and Cantwell will also extend the placed-in-service deadline through 2009 for the Production Tax Credit for geothermal, wind, biomass and hydropower facilities.

“Satisfying our energy needs and reducing our reliance on foreign sources is a challenge that we must meet, but that can only happen with the right incentives in place,” Sen. Ensign said. “Our bipartisan bill will help put us on a path toward energy independence with American ingenuity leading the way.”

The bill also extends the residential solar credit for one year and removes the US $2,000 cap. The bill now has 30 co-sponsors, including members of the GOP who have opposed previous attempts to pass a tax credit extension such as Sen. John Sununu (R-NH).

“Rising energy prices place enormous financial pressure on families and businesses across New Hampshire and the nation,” Sen. Sununu said. “These renewable energy tax credits help lower this burden and represent smart investment policy for our environment. Most important, the bill makes good sense for New Hampshire where our wood, biomass, and wood pellet industries here have provided jobs across the state.”

The vehicle for the package has not yet been announced, though some have speculated that it will be attached to an upcoming Housing Bill. Those behind the bill are confident they can get the 61 co-sponsors that the bill will need to pass the Senate.

“From New Hampshire to Michigan to Oregon, this bill provides a much-needed shot in the arm for our ailing national economy. This legislation will create thousands of jobs, unleash billions in investment and prevent a major disruption in this fast-growing sector — all at a time when we need it the most,” said Rhone Resch, President of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The American Wind Energy Association also applauded the Senators’ work, saying that this extension will benefit both the renewable energy industries and the economy as a whole.

“We commend Senators Cantwell and Ensign for their leadership in crafting a bipartisan approach to the urgently needed extension of renewable energy tax incentives that are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. More than 116,000 jobs and US $19 billion in investment in new, clean energy sources like wind and solar power hang in the balance awaiting Congress’s decision on this critical issue,” said Gregory Wetstone, Senior Director of Governmental and Public Affairs for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

The bill contains provisions that would:

  • Extend the Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit’s (PTC) placed-in-service date through 2009 for facilities that generate electricity from wind, closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, geothermal energy, solar energy, small irrigation power, landfill gas, and trash combustion.

  • Extend the solar energy and fuel cell investment tax credit through 2016.

  • Extend the 30% residential energy-efficient solar property credit through 2009 for purchases of qualified solar property used to generate electricity or heat water.

  • Extend the 10% energy-efficient credit for existing homes through 2009.

  • Extend the energy efficient new homes credit through 2010.

  • Extend the energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction for property placed-in-service through 2009, and increases the maximum deduction amount from the current US $1.80 to $2.25 per square foot.

  • Extend the energy-efficient appliance credit for appliances produced in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

  • Authorize an additional US $400 million of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds and extends authority to issue such bonds through 2009.

To read a version of the language that will be contained in the new legislation, click here.


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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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