A group of 20 US Senate Democrats have called for the extension of clean energy tax incentives such as the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), and the residential renewable energy tax credit, a call which has been applauded and joined by the country’s clean energy associations.
Dated Wednesday, June 19, the group of Democratic US Senators — including five Presidential candidates — addressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, both Republicans, as well as Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Ron Wyden, the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, both Democrats. The Democratic Senators called for the Senate Finance Committee and US Congress to “prioritize extending clean energy tax incentives” as politicians consider extending expired and expiring tax incentives and investments as part of House Resolution 3301 (HR 3301).
Specifically prioritized by the authors of the letter were the solar Investment Tax Credit and the residential renewable energy tax credit, the decrease of both of which, according to the authors, “should be delayed by at least as much time as it will take to implement a technology-neutral incentive or other federal legislation to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation.”
The letter was signed by Presidential candidates Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris, as well as Catherine Cortez Masto, Sheldon Whitehouse, Edward J Markey, Martin Heinrich, Jeffrey A. Merkley, Michael F. Bennet, Jack Reed, Chris Van Hollen, Tom Udall, Jacky Rosen, Tina Smith, Christopher A. Coons, Robert Menendez, Dianne Feinstein, and Mazie K. Hirono.
The letter outlines the work already done by the various renewable energy tax credits including the growth of the US solar energy industry and the number of jobs being created by the country’s various renewable energy technologies. The authors also raised concerns that “US emissions surged last year, endangering future generations.”
“In order to continue amplifying renewable energy growth and a meaningful transition to clean energy utilization,” wrote the Senators, “our country will need to continue policies that have already proven to drive investment, or otherwise pass new policies that dis-incentivize carbon emissions.”
Unsurprisingly, the call to extend the various renewable energy tax credits was praised by the country’s renewable energy technology trade associations.
“Chairman Neal is proposing a general tax extenders package, with all expired credits or credits expiring this year moving forward another year,” said Bree Raum, Vice President, Federal Affairs, American Wind Energy Association. “As Congress considers clean energy tax policy, we encourage parity between technologies to boost competition and meet consumer demand for clean energy at the lowest possible cost. Accordingly, we would support tax extender policies that move toward that level playing field.”
“The ITC is a common-sense policy that helps everyday Americans, whether it’s on a house, within a community, or on a tract of farmland,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Until we have comprehensive legislation addressing climate change, the ITC is the strongest policy there is to incent clean energy development. We already know that the ITC has generated hundreds of thousands of jobs and injected more than $140 billion in private investment into the economy.
“The ITC has a record of bipartisan support, and circumstances since 2015, such as trade tariffs and a heightened awareness of climate change, only serve to bolster the case for extending the wildly successful policy. Fully, 81% of American voters believe solar is good for the economy and 73%, including 65% of Republican voters, believe solar can help address climate change.
“We strongly support an ITC extension and respectfully urge Congress to extend the credit.”
However, even though HR 3301 — which was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee on a party-line vote of 25-17 — includes a one-year extension for the wind energy PTC, there was no inclusion of extending the ITC for energy storage. HR 3301 would also offer three-year retroactive extensions to credits for several other smaller-scale renewable energy technologies, such as biodiesel and biofuel, 2-wheeled plug-in electric vehicle credit, etc..
Members of the Ways and Means Committee promised a separate new bill to expand and extend incentives for renewable and clean energy technologies, however, the lack of immediate action to support low- or zero-emitting energy technologies has raised the ire of many.
“The House Ways and Means Committee extenders mark is a modest start to a really important near-term opportunity,” said Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy. “While an extra year of the wind PTC and renewal of the orphan renewable technologies are to be welcomed, this year’s extenders process should not conclude without the inclusion of a tax credit for energy storage and other critical measures to help combat climate change and decarbonize the grid.”
“‘Climate Action Now’ means now, not later,” declared John Bowman, managing director of Government Affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We are very concerned that by failing to include these key credits the House will miss an opportunity to take meaningful action on climate change this Congress.
“If the House is serious about reducing climate emissions right away, it needs to include these top clean energy priorities into the current legislation. Clean energy technology tax credits are building blocks of serious climate action. A tax extender package appears to have a realistic chance of passing both houses of Congress this year, and Chairman Neal should heed the advice of 110 members who’ve urged him to prioritize these key clean energy items.”