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Published on April 4th, 2008 | by Timothy B. Hurst

19

Senate Coalition Introduces Clean Energy Tax Package




But is the bill different enough to pass?

us capitol, congress, senate, clean energy tax stimulus package, renewable energy, production tax credit, investment tax credit

As was reported at Hill Heat, and elsewhere, Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), led a bipartisan group of senators in announcing a bill to incentivize the development of renewable energy and expand energy efficiency in buildings, homes, and appliances. The Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Package of 2008 (pdf) will provide some certainty to investors and those individuals and businesses that are considering adding solar, wind, biomass, methane capture, or other clean energy technologies.

Teetering on the brink of passage

Renewable Energy tax packages always face trouble in the Senate, and this dates back to our first energy crises in the 1970s. In a more recent example, a tax package failed repeatedly on the Senate floor, including a $22 billion version that fell one vote short of winning approval as an amendment to a broader energy bill in December. Many Republicans balked at the funding mechanism for the previous renewable energy incentives because they rescinded tax breaks from the big energy companies (which was spun by the right as a “tax increase.”).

Summary of the bill:

  • The renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) is extended one year to 2009 and modified to include tidal power
  • The solar and fuel cell investment tax credit (ITC) is extended 8 years to 2016
  • The residential energy-efficient property credit is extended one year to 2009, and the $2,000 cap is removed
  • Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) are extended one year to 2009, with an additional $400 million authorized
  • The 10% ITC for energy-efficiency improvements to existing homes is extended one year to 2009
  • The contractor tax credit for energy-efficient new homes is extended two years to 2010
  • The energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction is extended one year to 2009 and increases the $1.80/sqft max to $2.25/sqft
  • The energy-efficient appliance credit is extended to 2010

Photo: dbking

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.



  • buzz saw

    The status quo will kill us all one way or another. Trillions for war, not even a lousy $22 billion for green energy. I hate those cockroaches.

  • buzz saw

    The status quo will kill us all one way or another. Trillions for war, not even a lousy $22 billion for green energy. I hate those cockroaches.

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  • Tom

    There is no ‘one’ solution. Carbon based enrgy sources were easy and so are singular in their success because it was cheap and now we completely depend on them. We have set ourselves up for the largest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind due to our sole dependance in a single energy source.

    This is why Patrick is so compelling in his argument. We need to take a revolutionary approach to the entrenched powers that would keep carbon based energy sources cheap enough to keep using. Our current ‘Commander in Chief’s’ policy reversal on offshore drilling is just this type of opiate that would slow the inexorable rise in carbon based energy while keeping the drain on our nations financial resources intact until we, like Britain 100 years ago, slip into the dark twilight of an empire exhausted.

    I say reject it until the next congress. Get off the juice? Yes we can!

  • Tom

    There is no ‘one’ solution. Carbon based enrgy sources were easy and so are singular in their success because it was cheap and now we completely depend on them. We have set ourselves up for the largest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind due to our sole dependance in a single energy source.

    This is why Patrick is so compelling in his argument. We need to take a revolutionary approach to the entrenched powers that would keep carbon based energy sources cheap enough to keep using. Our current ‘Commander in Chief’s’ policy reversal on offshore drilling is just this type of opiate that would slow the inexorable rise in carbon based energy while keeping the drain on our nations financial resources intact until we, like Britain 100 years ago, slip into the dark twilight of an empire exhausted.

    I say reject it until the next congress. Get off the juice? Yes we can!

  • Andy

    I am eager to move into alternative energies. I believe the big oil industry will hold onto its market until the last drop of oil has been burned (same for gas and other limited-supply energy sources). Thus, it has become my goal to use it up as fast as possible. This is the best way I can imagine forcing them to support an alternative energy. I know this isn’t the best approach, as I’m supporting them in the mean time and the consumer is bearing the load of costs. However, this is my outlook until I can become energy independent myself.

    I think this thermal solar / parabolic solution is key. While it won’t necessarily have the best impact on transportation, it can indirectly. If we move to electric or fuel cell solutions for transportation, there will still need to be a source of energy to charge or fill these technologies. That is where solar (and wind) comes in to play.

    Personally, I’ve been coming to envisage this parabolic solar energy as an effective means to power magnetic bullet trains. I haven’t thought it out thoroughly, but it would be expected that they only ran from something like 11am to 6pm (under solar power). It would take roughly 16 hours under current systems to travel by bullet train from coast to coast (U.S.A). This could mean a trip across the country may take 2 days. This is perfectly reasonable to me. Sorry I don’t have more details on this possibility. It’s merely a daydream at the moment.

    Hmmmm. I think some legislation limiting governmental travel would be in order. They waste way too much of our tax dollars on fuel (esp. jet). Come on! We ARE in the 21st century. We have the technology to allow international communication without requiring face-to-face diplomacy.

    This may be a long fight, but I’m there with you! We have to fight for our right…. to FREEDOM!!!

  • Andy

    I am eager to move into alternative energies. I believe the big oil industry will hold onto its market until the last drop of oil has been burned (same for gas and other limited-supply energy sources). Thus, it has become my goal to use it up as fast as possible. This is the best way I can imagine forcing them to support an alternative energy. I know this isn’t the best approach, as I’m supporting them in the mean time and the consumer is bearing the load of costs. However, this is my outlook until I can become energy independent myself.

    I think this thermal solar / parabolic solution is key. While it won’t necessarily have the best impact on transportation, it can indirectly. If we move to electric or fuel cell solutions for transportation, there will still need to be a source of energy to charge or fill these technologies. That is where solar (and wind) comes in to play.

    Personally, I’ve been coming to envisage this parabolic solar energy as an effective means to power magnetic bullet trains. I haven’t thought it out thoroughly, but it would be expected that they only ran from something like 11am to 6pm (under solar power). It would take roughly 16 hours under current systems to travel by bullet train from coast to coast (U.S.A). This could mean a trip across the country may take 2 days. This is perfectly reasonable to me. Sorry I don’t have more details on this possibility. It’s merely a daydream at the moment.

    Hmmmm. I think some legislation limiting governmental travel would be in order. They waste way too much of our tax dollars on fuel (esp. jet). Come on! We ARE in the 21st century. We have the technology to allow international communication without requiring face-to-face diplomacy.

    This may be a long fight, but I’m there with you! We have to fight for our right…. to FREEDOM!!!

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  • Bill

    I say pass the bill.

    Sure it’s a cop-out on the insane oil/coal subsidies but it’s progress. Sometimes taking a few small steps adds up.

    Here’s how I see it: even if we keep wasting money on Big Oil/Big Coal subsidies, at least we will make progress on the expansion of our clean energy sources. I personally would love to see a separate bill which removes the Big Oil/Coal subsidies and advertisements by groups supporting the bill explaining to the fiscal conservatives where their money is going. If the retraction is glomped on to a green energy bill, we lose the argument about saving money. If the green energy bill passes and the de-subsidization bill fails, the green energy will eventually overtake oil/coal; I know it’s not fast enough but at least it’ll move forward.

    Cop-out, yes. Potential partial progress? Also yes. I say go for it.

    Believe me, I am more than simply frustrated about oil/coal/oil-war spending, especially when supposed fiscal conservatives dear to me simply deny the existence of the subsidies. We MUST make green energy progress regardless of whether we continue to waste money on oil/coal. Let’s let the lawmakers address them as two separate issues so we can clearly argue for one on it’s merit and against the other on the waste/insanity/corporate-socialism without cross-chatter.

    Bill

  • Bill

    I say pass the bill.

    Sure it’s a cop-out on the insane oil/coal subsidies but it’s progress. Sometimes taking a few small steps adds up.

    Here’s how I see it: even if we keep wasting money on Big Oil/Big Coal subsidies, at least we will make progress on the expansion of our clean energy sources. I personally would love to see a separate bill which removes the Big Oil/Coal subsidies and advertisements by groups supporting the bill explaining to the fiscal conservatives where their money is going. If the retraction is glomped on to a green energy bill, we lose the argument about saving money. If the green energy bill passes and the de-subsidization bill fails, the green energy will eventually overtake oil/coal; I know it’s not fast enough but at least it’ll move forward.

    Cop-out, yes. Potential partial progress? Also yes. I say go for it.

    Believe me, I am more than simply frustrated about oil/coal/oil-war spending, especially when supposed fiscal conservatives dear to me simply deny the existence of the subsidies. We MUST make green energy progress regardless of whether we continue to waste money on oil/coal. Let’s let the lawmakers address them as two separate issues so we can clearly argue for one on it’s merit and against the other on the waste/insanity/corporate-socialism without cross-chatter.

    Bill

  • CJ

    Define Oil.

    So very many times, the Republican view of a subject and the Democratic view of a subject are completely different subjects.

    I remain delightfully optimistic that common sense and logic will finally prevail. Electric golf carts were alive and well in the ’80′s. Consider the possibilities if concentric circles were drawn around urban areas with progressively different types of transportation available, with the infrastructure to support

    And consider the possibilities if urban planners make some assumption OTHER THAN, for example, that all people commute from spoke positioned suburbs ONLY TO downtown Seattle. How can high density housing exist if one cannot commute OUT TO the areas where large manufacturing plants can economically be placed? For example, just try to take Seattle’s new commuter trains from Auburn to Everett for a job; it is not possible with current perceptions of commuting patterns.

    Or maybe place a park & ride on the west end of the 520 bridge in Seattle to alleviate the east bound traffic that seems to be so very puzzling to urban planners – why would anyone commute OUT OF the city – duh! Doesn’t it make one wonder where the urban planners in all cities live, and whether the resulting bus routes and train schedules are just the ticket for their lives, no never mind about anyone elses?

    And has anyone seen the really cool solar arrays the school districts in Southern California have built!

  • CJ

    Define Oil.

    So very many times, the Republican view of a subject and the Democratic view of a subject are completely different subjects.

    I remain delightfully optimistic that common sense and logic will finally prevail. Electric golf carts were alive and well in the ’80′s. Consider the possibilities if concentric circles were drawn around urban areas with progressively different types of transportation available, with the infrastructure to support

    And consider the possibilities if urban planners make some assumption OTHER THAN, for example, that all people commute from spoke positioned suburbs ONLY TO downtown Seattle. How can high density housing exist if one cannot commute OUT TO the areas where large manufacturing plants can economically be placed? For example, just try to take Seattle’s new commuter trains from Auburn to Everett for a job; it is not possible with current perceptions of commuting patterns.

    Or maybe place a park & ride on the west end of the 520 bridge in Seattle to alleviate the east bound traffic that seems to be so very puzzling to urban planners – why would anyone commute OUT OF the city – duh! Doesn’t it make one wonder where the urban planners in all cities live, and whether the resulting bus routes and train schedules are just the ticket for their lives, no never mind about anyone elses?

    And has anyone seen the really cool solar arrays the school districts in Southern California have built!

  • Patrick

    Mike, thank you so much for your response, it is very encouraging!! The more good feedback and comments like these that I hear, the more encouraged I am to help to spread the word and gear America up for a fight against these real world villains – Oil and Coal. We are sooooo complacent because we feel there is nothing we can do to stop them, or that it would take too much effort but the truth is that all it will take is large numbers of people to stand up to them.

    We’re also discouraged because we know that we will essentially need to wage a war against them to knock them down- not war in the traditional sense, but we’ll need an army of Americas to stand up to them and teach them a lesson about what can happen to big WRONG DOING companies like them. If we can all stand behind this cause, we can show the power of the people in a way that has never been shown before and we can discourage other similar companies from attempting the same, from thinking that they can get away with it. We have the power of this internet to make it happen, for the first time in history the people have this instant communication and can rally very fast- I believe this is the perfect time to use it because with global companies becoming stronger and stronger and richer and richer comes serious power that needs a proven counterbalance.

    There are so many reasons to want to edge out Oil and Coal companies as fast as possible. Everyone should think about the reasons and get siked up and talk about them. The more we talk, the more big oil and coal get scared and the more they and the rest of America invest their money where it should be- in solar, wind, wave, fuelcells (powered by solar), and geothermal (NOT ETHONAL OR BIOFUELS).

    Anyone else who is reading this and who is encouraged, please do respond with a comment and pass this link along… If I hear from people in a positive way I will fight harder and smarter. I supposed that if I don’t hear much I’ll just lay down with everyone else and take it.

    Patrick

  • Patrick

    Mike, thank you so much for your response, it is very encouraging!! The more good feedback and comments like these that I hear, the more encouraged I am to help to spread the word and gear America up for a fight against these real world villains – Oil and Coal. We are sooooo complacent because we feel there is nothing we can do to stop them, or that it would take too much effort but the truth is that all it will take is large numbers of people to stand up to them.

    We’re also discouraged because we know that we will essentially need to wage a war against them to knock them down- not war in the traditional sense, but we’ll need an army of Americas to stand up to them and teach them a lesson about what can happen to big WRONG DOING companies like them. If we can all stand behind this cause, we can show the power of the people in a way that has never been shown before and we can discourage other similar companies from attempting the same, from thinking that they can get away with it. We have the power of this internet to make it happen, for the first time in history the people have this instant communication and can rally very fast- I believe this is the perfect time to use it because with global companies becoming stronger and stronger and richer and richer comes serious power that needs a proven counterbalance.

    There are so many reasons to want to edge out Oil and Coal companies as fast as possible. Everyone should think about the reasons and get siked up and talk about them. The more we talk, the more big oil and coal get scared and the more they and the rest of America invest their money where it should be- in solar, wind, wave, fuelcells (powered by solar), and geothermal (NOT ETHONAL OR BIOFUELS).

    Anyone else who is reading this and who is encouraged, please do respond with a comment and pass this link along… If I hear from people in a positive way I will fight harder and smarter. I supposed that if I don’t hear much I’ll just lay down with everyone else and take it.

    Patrick

  • http://mikesabat.wordpress.com Mike

    @ Patrick,

    Great comment. I’m going to email this letter to some friends as well.

  • http://mikesabat.wordpress.com Mike

    @ Patrick,

    Great comment. I’m going to email this letter to some friends as well.

  • Patrick

    I nearly called my senators to pass this bill becuase I thought it was the original that included the taking back the $18Billion that we gave to BigOil in tax breaks. Then realized it is was a cop-out bill, here’s what I wrote to Solar Nation when I realized this:

    =========

    Woops!

    I thought this was for the one with the 18Bill repeal of the oil taxes and I started a write up to get people to call in (see below). Then after I clicked on the link (duh) and read what it really was, I was sorry to have found a cop-out bill, especially after congress just dragged in big oil to explain itself. Now is the time for another repeal attempt, not a cop-out bill. I stand behind Nancy Pelosi on this, to include it in the bill and keep attention to the fact that we are being ripped off… not to bow to them and let them keep doing it to us.

    This is what I had written to send out to 288 of my peers (those who pass it along as well!)

    ———-

    This is for an energy bill bill would repeal the $18Billion of your tax dollars that went to Oil companies last year (while they made $123Billion record Profits off of you & robbed you at the pump & then they stole $18B of your tax dollars, I wont’ even get into the war and the pollution these people perpetuate). Democrats have tried three times to pass this bill but the senators that the Oil companies pay off have blocked it three times now in 6 months, because, obviously, they are getting paid to by big oil to keep blocking it (why would they want solar or alt fuels to become the new energy?). If this kind of corruption and outright thievery & immoral actions bothers you at all even in the slightest, then simply read the message below where you’ll find the phone number to the senators that are allowing big oil to rip you off at the pump and then steal your tax money. Perhaps you’d like to give them a quick call? I’ve called before every bill, they

    answer right away, it’s very simple… it’s just that not enough people are calling so they keep doing what they are doing….

    Please call and pass this email on… sincerely, I think this is one of the easiest and best things that any US citizen can do to show their government that you are serious about these changes and that you are payig attention. If they don’t think you’re paying attention, they really will keep on doing what they are doing…. thank you…..

    ===

    THESE SENATORS MAKE ME ALMOST AS SICK AS THE OIL COMPANIES DO AND OUR WEB SITE WILL BE ETHCHING THEIR NAMES IN HISTORY – EACH SENATOR THAT VOTES (voted) AGAINST for GIVING BigOil $18Billion of our money and each senator who blocked the energy bill WILL BE RECORDED CLEARLY ON THE SITE – WHEN WE LOOK BACK IN HISTORY AT WHO KEPT OIL AROUND TO Pullute and rip off and wage wars over THESE PEOPLE WILL BE REMEMBERED!!!

    Oil and COAL – THE ROOT OF THE MAJORITY OF ALTERABLE EVIL IN THE WORLD TODAY.

    THE WAR ON OIL is ON!

    I hope you’ll join us soon!

    Patrick

  • Patrick

    I nearly called my senators to pass this bill becuase I thought it was the original that included the taking back the $18Billion that we gave to BigOil in tax breaks. Then realized it is was a cop-out bill, here’s what I wrote to Solar Nation when I realized this:

    =========

    Woops!

    I thought this was for the one with the 18Bill repeal of the oil taxes and I started a write up to get people to call in (see below). Then after I clicked on the link (duh) and read what it really was, I was sorry to have found a cop-out bill, especially after congress just dragged in big oil to explain itself. Now is the time for another repeal attempt, not a cop-out bill. I stand behind Nancy Pelosi on this, to include it in the bill and keep attention to the fact that we are being ripped off… not to bow to them and let them keep doing it to us.

    This is what I had written to send out to 288 of my peers (those who pass it along as well!)

    ———-

    This is for an energy bill bill would repeal the $18Billion of your tax dollars that went to Oil companies last year (while they made $123Billion record Profits off of you & robbed you at the pump & then they stole $18B of your tax dollars, I wont’ even get into the war and the pollution these people perpetuate). Democrats have tried three times to pass this bill but the senators that the Oil companies pay off have blocked it three times now in 6 months, because, obviously, they are getting paid to by big oil to keep blocking it (why would they want solar or alt fuels to become the new energy?). If this kind of corruption and outright thievery & immoral actions bothers you at all even in the slightest, then simply read the message below where you’ll find the phone number to the senators that are allowing big oil to rip you off at the pump and then steal your tax money. Perhaps you’d like to give them a quick call? I’ve called before every bill, they

    answer right away, it’s very simple… it’s just that not enough people are calling so they keep doing what they are doing….

    Please call and pass this email on… sincerely, I think this is one of the easiest and best things that any US citizen can do to show their government that you are serious about these changes and that you are payig attention. If they don’t think you’re paying attention, they really will keep on doing what they are doing…. thank you…..

    ===

    THESE SENATORS MAKE ME ALMOST AS SICK AS THE OIL COMPANIES DO AND OUR WEB SITE WILL BE ETHCHING THEIR NAMES IN HISTORY – EACH SENATOR THAT VOTES (voted) AGAINST for GIVING BigOil $18Billion of our money and each senator who blocked the energy bill WILL BE RECORDED CLEARLY ON THE SITE – WHEN WE LOOK BACK IN HISTORY AT WHO KEPT OIL AROUND TO Pullute and rip off and wage wars over THESE PEOPLE WILL BE REMEMBERED!!!

    Oil and COAL – THE ROOT OF THE MAJORITY OF ALTERABLE EVIL IN THE WORLD TODAY.

    THE WAR ON OIL is ON!

    I hope you’ll join us soon!

    Patrick

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