Extenders expected to hit Senate floor as soon as this week

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, May 12, 2014

The Senate this week is expected to take up legislation to extend dozens of temporary business tax breaks, including key incentives for renewable energy and alternative fuels.

The so-called tax extenders package could hit the floor by the end of this week, although a formal schedule was in flux as of last week. It would come on the heels of an expected defeat of energy efficiency legislation, which came up short amid failed negotiations during the last two weeks over what amendments Republicans would be able to offer (see related story).Like the efficiency bill, tax extenders enjoy broad bipartisan support, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is again expected to block any amendments to the sweeping bill. Still, supporters are hopeful that Republicans will go along with the plan, given their heavy support for pieces of the package such as generous business expensing deductions and the research and development tax credit, among others.

For energy watchers, the key piece of the package is the production tax credit (PTC), which supports wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower and waste-to-energy facilities. The credit expired at the beginning of this year, and its recipients, especially in the wind industry, have been lobbying heavily for an extension. The bill also would extend a pair of biofuels incentives as well as credits to promote other alternative fuels, energy efficiency and other sectors.

The Finance Committee approved the extenders package last month, in a move Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said would be the last time the temporary breaks were extended before enacting comprehensive tax reform (Greenwire, April 3).

The House has taken a much narrower approach to the tax extenders debate this year, and the PTC especially faces tougher terrain in the lower chamber than it has in the past. Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) proposed eliminating the PTC and most other energy-related breaks in his comprehensive tax reform proposal released earlier this year. And the House last week passed a much narrower package to make permanent just a handful of extenders, including the R&D credit (Greenwire, May 9).