You've Got to Be Kidding: Renewable Energy Incentives Held Hostage by Tax Debate

wind turbine blades transported on train photo

photo: kedziers

Last week when the Senate finally managed to pass legislation which would extend renewable energy tax incentives that are due to expire at the end of 2008 many, including myself, breathed a sigh of relief. These tax incentives are claimed by many both within the industry and without as being crucial to continuing the robust growth the US renewables market has seen in the past few years. All that had to be done was the House and Senate reconciling their two different versions of the bills, sending it to the president (who was expected to sign it) and voilà.

Not so fast. Lawmakers are now saying that they are at an impasse in reconciling the two different version of the bills and may not have time to do so before Congress recesses for the presidential election in November. The absurd thing in this is that, at this point, its not renewable energy which is the sticking point. It’s other tax breaks which are tied to the bill:Other Tax Issues Tied to Senate Bill
The Senate’s bill is tied to a larger tax package, which includes various tax breaks for individuals and businesses, including tweaks to the Alternative Minimum Tax. The House’s version of the bill was not attached to these larger tax issues. The two chambers of Congress cannot agree on how to finance these other tax breaks.

I’m not going to give you the point-counterpoint on which representatives said what in support of this legislation, and against it, The New York Times has done a fine job in collecting these sort of quotes. Suffice it to say, no one is debating the merits of alternative energy in this portion of the debate; this is about these other tax breaks.

And that's what just kills me. By wrapping renewable energy tax credits up with other sorts of tax credits (worthy as they may be in and of themselves) the Senate has inadvertently sabotaged renewable energy policy in the United States. The House managed to separate the two, why not the Senate? The whole thing is becoming more absurd by the passing moment.

Greentech Jobs, Renewable Energy, on the Line
In commenting on what this impasse could mean for the industry, a representative for the Solar Energy Industries Association said that the solar industry alone could lose 39,000 jobs next year if this legislation is not passed, and urged Congress not to adjourn until some sort of compromise was reached (Reuters).

via :: The New York Times and :: Reuters
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