Wind, Solar Incentives Stripped from Energy Bill

Capitol RotundaThe Senate version of the energy bill that passed last week includes great things, like boosting vehicles’ average fuel efficiency to 35 miles per gallon (up from 25 mpg today), increasing the use of biofuels and updating efficiency standards for federal buildings. But the glaring gaps include the absence of renewable energy incentives. Specifically, a 15 percent renewable energy standard was cut (that would have required 15 percent of the nation’s electricity to come from renewable sources), as were extensions for the production tax credit (PTC) for wind power and credits for solar power and small wind.

Both a two-year extension of the PTC and the small wind credit fell one vote short of the 60 needed to avoid a filibuster. Those wind credits, the solar investment credit and most federal renewable energy tax credits are set to expire in 2008.

That uncertainty of the credits’ renewal means that renewable energy projects could come to a standstill. In past years, as an extension of the PTC comes down to the wire, wind projects have stopped 6-8 months before its expiration. If that trend holds true, we could see a similar slow down in 2008 if the PTC isn’t renewed quickly.

Chris Stimpson, executive campaigner for Solar Nation, told Renewable Energy Access:

In years to come, historians writing about this era will find fertile ground in the fact that as the UNFCCC Global Warming conference in Bali wound down with an almost universal commitment to fighting climate change, the U.S. voted, yet again, to fight the rest of the world instead.

The final version of the Senate energy bill passed 86-8. It now goes back to the House, where it’s expected to pass easily. President Bush had promised to veto any bill that contained an RES or a tax title like the PTC. Now the White House has signaled that it approves the bill.

Although renewable energy failed this year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised that the Senate will return to it in 2008. He says he’ll try to pass a tax credit extension in a separate legislative package next month.

Wondering whether your Senator voted yea or no on the PTC and small wind credit? The American Wind Energy Association has a handy map where you can find out.

Peak Energy
Renewable Energy Access
Renewable Energy Law Blog
Wind Energy Weekly

8 Comments

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  1. Thanks for posting this… This sucks! We just got a windmill plant here in Central Arkansas, and you see the blades going down the road on HUGE trucks in threes all the time now which is really cool. BTW. This page is HARD to read with the dark gray text on the olive background. I had to copy it out to a text document to read it!

  2. The problem with renewable energy is that there is no one or two big corprorations who can monopolize it. Simply put, it is not profitable enough to campaign donors. Bio fuels, from corn and other agricultural products, still put big business in the “green,” so that’s where our leaders are forcing our faces. This will be standard practice, so long as Americans vote in more of the same garbage that we have been putting into office, even as they say they want “change.”

  3. what is the underlying reason as to why bush is bent to vetoing any renewable energy bills? or why the senate approved the current bill with such a wide margin? the articles makes no mention.. could it really be as simple as OIL$$?

  4. Kevin is spot-on. If it isn’t making anyone money, its as effective as the non-FDA drugs out there– even though wind and solar powered energy has proven benefits. I’ve been more proactive about learning and doing my part since early fall– looking for ways I can do my part. In January, there’s this free event in SF that you have to check out– http://www.openeco.org/energycamp
    There are great speakers coming and loads of chewable info about doing your part. I’m convinced if enough people take the initiative, those in power will stop ignoring viable options to keep the gears turning.

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