The renewable-energy industry is continuing to sling bill after bill into Congress in the hopes of saving federal tax credits from expiring at the end of this year.
So far, none of the bills have broken the barrier of the 60 Senate votes needed for approval. But the industry isn’t giving up hope yet.
A new bill, which Renewable Energy World said could reach the Senate floor as early as this week, would extend a 30 percent investment-tax credit for solar energy and fuel cells – as well as a 10 percent investment tax credit for microturbines – for eight years, and would allow public utilities, which are currently excluded, to claim these credits.
It would extend the residential solar credit for eight years, double the annual cap from $2,000 to $4,000, and allow small-wind projects and geothermal heat pumps to also receive the credit.
Among other provisions, the bill would extend production tax credits for wind facilities for one year and for biomass, geothermal, ocean energy and a few other technologies for three years, and it would provide $2 billion in bonds to finance projects using those same technologies.
It also would provide $1.5 billion in tax credits for carbon-capture and -sequestration demonstration products.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., introduced the bill, called the Jobs, Energy, Families and Disaster Relief Act of 2008, last week.
But so far, bills to extend the tax credits haven’t been able to survive both houses of Congress (see Solar Roundup: Another Tax-Credit Proposal, Solar Sharpens Weapons for Incentive Battle, Policy Roundup: U.S. Senate Passes Incentives, Solar Industry's Five-Step Plan, Renewable Tax Incentive Still At Risk, Senate Rejects Green Incentives to Pass Energy Bill and Senate Sends Energy Bill Back to Beginning).
Last month, the Senate twice failed to get the votes to end a filibuster on another bill, the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008, which also would have extended renewable-energy incentives (see Senate Blocks Renewable Incentives Bill and Green Light post).
While many companies still believe a one-year extension will be passed before the credits expire at the end of the year, Thomas Weisel Partners doesn't have high hopes that it will happen in time to prevent a gap, according to a research note released in June (see Solar Firms Struggle to Forecast 2009).
"It perplexes us as to why the investor community has continually hoped for the passage of this bill over the last 12 months; however, given that we are in an election year we
Meanwhile, Abengoa Solar earlier this month said it would suspend plans to build a concentrating solar-thermal plant and a mirror manufacturing facility in the United States if the eight-year investment-tax-credit extension doesn’t pass (see No Tax Credit, No Solar Power).