US Senate Passes Renewable Energy Tax Credits, House Could Pass Bill This Week

The United States Senate on Tuesday voted by an overwhelming majority to extend the Production (PTC) and Investment Tax Credits (ITC). The tax measure was passed by a vote of 93-2. Now it goes back to the U.S. House of Representatives where it could be approved later this week.

Under the legislation, the PTC will be extended for one year and the ITC will be extended for eight years. The extensions would be at least partially paid for by a change in the tax code for the oil and gas industry. The bill also contains removal of the US $2,000 cap for residential solar installations. The US $18 billion package is part of a larger tax bill worth approximately US $148 billion.

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) expressed the difficulty he and his colleagues in the Senate have had getting the tax credits passes and warned that if the House makes changes to the bill it may not move forward.

“I hope they will take into account the seriousness of how difficult it has been for us to get this passed,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “Don’t send us back something else. We can’t get it passed.” 

There have been rumors that the House will not pass the bill as it currently stands. If changes are made to the bill in the House the Senate may have to return for a special session next week to debate the bill as the current legislative session ends for election season at the end of this week. The White House issued a Statement of Position on the bill urging its passage, a sign that President Bush would sign the legislation.

Companies in the solar industry have come out in praise of the Senate for passing the bipartisan legislation.

“We applaud the Senate for bringing the U.S. one step closer to becoming a progressive leader in the renewable energy industry, and for enabling us to compete worldwide with the many foreign countries who already have
sophisticated renewable energy programs. The eight-year extension breathes new life into the entire solar industry and will enable Clear Skies Solar to experience the explosive growth that we had originally anticipated of our company and the industry as a whole,” said Ezra Green, CEO of Clear Skies Solar.

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