Dem bill would offer ‘victory bonds’ to cover clean energy credits

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014

House Democrats are reaching for an old financing model to support new sources of energy.Modeled off a successful World War II-era program, a bill introduced yesterday would direct the Treasury Department to issue $50 billion of “clean energy victory bonds,” the proceeds of which would offset the extension of a handful of clean energy tax breaks. California Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Doris Matsui were the lead co-sponsors of the bill, which attracted 16 other Democratic co-sponsors.

It would be up to Treasury to establish a regulatory program to implement the bill, a similar version of which was introduced last year, and there are no immediate signs it will gain traction in Congress. But it has attracted a coalition of outside supporters, including, the Center for American Progress and Ceres.

The bill would extend several clean energy tax credits through 2022, including the expired production tax credit (PTC), which primarily supports wind energy development, and credits to promote energy efficiency in homes and commercial buildings. It also would extend to 2022 the investment tax credit (ITC), whose primary beneficiary is the solar industry, as well as establish a voucher program to support electric vehicle purchases. It would not extend biofuels incentives.

The Joint Committee on Taxation has not determined how much the bill would cost, and Treasury would be tasked with determining how to ensure bond receipts were enough to cover the cost of the tax credits.

Bonds could be purchased for as little as $25 and would offer interest rates at least equivalent to those available on savings bonds currently offered by Treasury with a potential additional return “based on the valuation of carbon mitigated or energy saved through funded projects funded.”