Renewable Energy Incentives Stalled in Senate

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photo by Scott Jones via flickr

As San Francisco passes a new incentive program for solar, the Senate stalls. Yesterday, by a vote of 50-44 the Senate blocked H.R. 6049, the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008, from advancing to the floor for consideration. In doing so $18 billion in tax incentives for investment in renewable energy, carbon capture and sequestration projects, energy efficiency improvements and conservation efforts have been put at risk. The House passed its version of the legislation on May 21.

So, what exactly is inside this act and what's at stake?
Renewable Energy Incentives

  • Production tax credits to be extended through 2009 for wind facilities. Biomass, geothermal, hydro, landfill gas and waste-to-energy facilities have their place-in-service dates extended through 2011.
  • Extension of the 30% investment tax credit for solar and qualified fuel cell properties, and the 10% microturbines through the end of 2014. Residential solar property credits would also be extended to 2014 and the annual cap increased from $2000 to $4000.
  • An additional $2 billion of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) to finance certain renewable facilities.

Carbon Capture & Sequestration
  • Tax credits of $1.5 billion for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) as "advanced coal electricity projects and certain coal gasification projects". These credits would only be available to facilities that can demonstrate that the their CCS projects will capture at least 65% of CO2 emissions.

  • The 50% write off of facilities construction costs for cellulosic ethanol plants is extended to all cellulosic biofuels. This will go until 2013.
  • The $1/gallon biodiesel production tax credit is extended for another year and is extended to any feedstock and process as long as the fuel can be used as home heating oil, in vehicles, or as aviation fuel.

This is just the start of what's in this bill and I heartily encourage readers to nit pick through this one. You can download a PDF summary of the bill from the House Ways and Means Committee website.

If there's one thing that is sure to sabotage investment in renewables it's uncertainty in incentive programs. Even if there are aspects of this that don't suit everyone—It's politics, right? You're bound not to like parts of the legislation—unless there's some mid-term predictability in incentives/subsidies/promotions programs you're just not going to have steady investment.

via :: Greentech Media
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