Renewable energy tax incentives pass the Senate!

by Mike Gaworecki

September 24, 2008

Yesterday, the Senate passed H.R. 6049 by a decisive 93 to 2 vote. This is great news, because H.R. 6049 will extend the renewable energy tax credits that were set to expire on December 31st of this year. The bill provides $17 billion as tax incentives for investment in renewable energy.

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D – NM), chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said in a press statement, “These incentives will play a critical role in promoting clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and in turn reducing our reliance on conventional fuels, promoting a more secure energy supply and combating global warming. Equally important, these tax credits will create high-paying jobs and reduce energy costs for all Americans.”

Unfortunately, the bill also includes provisions for oil shale, tar sands, and coal-to-liquids development, which of course are fossil fuels and will therefore contribute to global warming while delaying our conversion to a renewable energy society. But let’s look on the bright side: at least all those renewable energy projects that were officially stalled because of the threat of the tax incentives expiring will hopefully now be back on track.

The Tax Extenders bill must still go back to the House (who passed a similar bill in May) and then be signed into law by the President. The White House, for its part, appears to have already come out in support of the bill. According to Senator Bingaman, “We’ve been trying for nearly two years to prevent these [renewable energy] incentives from lapsing, and I believe we finally have the bipartisan, bicameral support to finally get the job done. And I’m very pleased that the White House said today that it supports passage of this legislation.”

But passing the Senate version of the bill through the House will apparently not be the easiest sell, so there is still considerable room for doubt that the bill will actually land on Bush’s desk before Congress closes up shop for the year. Stay tuned…

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