The U.S. Senate on Wednesday evening fell one vote short of the 60 needed to call for a vote on a bill that would have extended renewable tax incentives for a year.
The vote was reminiscent of the energy bill debates in December, when the Senate twice failed -- by only a few votes -- to end filibusters on a bill that would have included $21.5 billion in renewable tax credits over the next decade (see Senate Rejects Green Incentives to Pass Energy Bill, Senate Sends Energy Bill Back to Beginning, House Passes Energy Bill, Will Greentech Get Anything from the Energy Bill? and Renewable Tax Credit and Portfolio Standard Could Get Cut From Energy Bill).
"With 116,000 jobs and nearly $19 billion in investment at risk in the renewable energy industries, a minority of the Senate has again frustrated the desire of millions of Americans across the political spectrum who overwhelmingly support clean, home-grown energy," said Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association, in a written statement.
The tax incentives, set to expire at the end of this year, are expected to cost $3 billion over 10 years.
Because many energy projects take more than a year to complete, companies have said the incentives' looming expiration date is stalling projects that wouldn't have been completed until after the end of this year (see U.S. Green-Energy Industry Hopes For Tax Reprieve).
Fears that the incentives might not be renewed have contributed to lower share prices. Before the vote Wednesday, the WilderHill Clean Energy Index, which monitors U.S. clean-energy stocks, fell 3.4 percent to close at 214.24 points.
Unless a last-minute bargain changes another vote, the Senate will now consider the House-approved version of the economic stimulus bill, which doesn't include a tax-extension credit. The Senate hopes to pass a stimulus plan by Feb. 15.