Senate passes tax break package, extends renewable tax credit

Posted on September 24, 2008. Filed under: Energy Policy, General |

From an article by Jim Abrams in the Washington Post:

WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a giant tax package Tuesday that saves more than 20 million taxpayers from the bite of the alternative minimum tax.

At a cost of more than $100 billion, the bill also nudges the nation toward greater use of alternative energy resources, renews popular tax breaks for businesses and individuals, and extends relief to disaster victims. . . .

The first segment of the three-part tax bill was a $17 billion measure to spur investment and create jobs in the renewable energy industry. The energy legislation extends for eight years, through 2016, investment tax credits for the solar power industry and for homeowners who install solar and wind equipment.

Taxpayers can claim a credit of up to $7,500 for purchasing plug-in electric cars, and production credits are extended to wind, biomass and marine _ waves and tide _ facilities. There are incentives to use smart meters for more efficient home energy use.

A study commissioned by the Solar Energy Industries Association found that the eight-year extension would more than triple investment during that period, to $325 billion, and almost triple employment in the industry, to 440,000 in 2016.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who helped put the energy package together, said the solar industry investment would provide power for more than 7 million people.

The measure drew opposition from the National Wildlife Federation, which objected to incentives for oil shale, tar sands and coal-to-liquid production it said was harmful to the environment. . . .

And from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

Thanks to you for making your voice heard on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly, 93 to 2, to approve legislation containing a one-year extension of the crucial wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) through December 31, 2009. The bill, H.R. 6049, also would create a new investment tax credit for purchases of small wind systems used to power homes, farms and small businesses.

Next, the bill must be approved by the full House of Representatives in a vote late this week. Once again, your voices are crucial in order to clear this final hurdle before Congress adjourns at the end of September. This vote is the last opportunity this year for Congress to extend the PTC.

Wind energy is not only a significant component of the global warming solution, but also a powerful engine in the U.S. economy. Since January 2007, more than 40 wind industry manufacturing facilities have been announced, brought online, or expanded in the U.S., creating over 9,000 jobs and $1 billion in manufacturing investment. When the PTC has lapsed in the past, wind energy investments have fallen 73-93% in the following years. We cannot allow this bright spot in our economy to burn out.


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