US lawmakers call on Congress to extend renewable energy incentives


A number of tax incentives for renewable-energy production in the United States are set to expire at the end of the year and a group of lawmakers in both houses of Congress are calling for them to be extended.

Members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition wrote to the House Ways and Means Committee this week calling for the extension while two dozen senators from across the country similarly urged members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance to include key incentives in any tax extender package the Senate considers.

Among the 10 incentives set to expire are the Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), both of which have helped solar PV to flourish in the U.S.

"In recent years, provisions like the production tax credit and the investment tax credit have helped technologies like wind and solar create tens of thousands of American jobs and generate an increasing share of America's power," read the letter to the Senate Finance Committee.

"These tax credits have helped scale up production and drive down the cost of clean energy technologies. They remain critical to addressing the market failures that prevent cost-effective, market-ready technologies from being deployed to their full potential. With continued support, clean energy will help Americans save money on their energy bills and reduce harmful pollution."

In the letter, senators from California, New York, Oregon, New Mexico, Delaware, Connecticut, Minnesota, Hawaii, Iowa, South Dakota, Main, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont stressed that the incentives were "critical to keeping American businesses and workers competitive in this key growth sector of the global economy."

Commenting on the question of whether Congress should extend renewable energy tax credits, Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said the discussion was "putting the cart before the horse. Most importantly, are incentives for renewable energy sources achieving their goals? In the case of solar, the answer is a resounding yes."

Resch noted that in addition to creating thousands of jobs, America's solar energy industry was helping to save U.S. consumers money, boosting the economy and reducing pollution nationwide.

"In 2006, prior to the enactment of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), there were less than 600 MW of grid-connected solar in the United States. By the end of this year, we expect to be closing in on 13,000 MW – enough to effectively power more than 2 million American homes, including the White House!"

He added that thanks to such public policies, solar had made "extraordinary progress in a very short period of time – and yet we still only represent about 1% of the total electric generating capacity of the United States. Is solar is more competitive today? Absolutely. But the playing field isn't level yet. The oil and gas industry, for example, has enjoyed incentives embedded in the U.S. Tax Code for nearly 100 years. You can't catch up to that overnight."

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