House Dems introduce energy extenders bill

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, September 22, 2014

A group of House Democrats Thursday introduced a bill to reinstate more than a dozen expired clean energy tax breaks and to expand the eligibility of an existing credit that primarily benefits solar energy.

The bill, H.R. 5559, from Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Dave Loebsack of Iowa and 16 other Democrats, largely mirrors energy provisions in S. 2260, the existing “tax extenders” bill that is awaiting Senate action during the lame-duck session to renew a variety of business and individual tax incentives that expired last year.

House Republicans have not been eager to extend the energy tax breaks, especially as the production tax credit (PTC) has become a huge target of conservative activists and elements of the nuclear and fossil fuel industries. But negotiations between the House and Senate are not expected to begin in earnest until lawmakers return after the November elections.

“Making sure these energy sources are on an even playing field with the fossil fuel industry is essential to lowering carbon emissions, creating a cleaner environment, and creating good, non-exportable American jobs,” Blumenauer said in a statement.

The House bill would extend the 2.3-cents-per-kilowatt-hour PTC, which primarily benefits wind energy, or allow PTC-eligible firms to instead claim a 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC); it also would extend tax credits for biofuels, alternative vehicles, home efficiency and other activities. The PTC would be extended through the end of 2016 — a year longer than in the Senate bill — while the other credits would be extended through the end of 2015; all would be made retroactive to apply to activities this year. It also would reinstate the so-called 48C credits for advanced manufacturing, which would not be continued under the Senate bill.

A key difference from the Senate extenders bill concerns the existing ITC for solar, combined heat and power, fuel cell, and other technologies. That credit is worth 30 percent of a project’s costs as long as it is complete by the end of 2016, after which it reverts to 10 percent. The Blumenauer-Loebsack bill would make projects eligible as long as a project is under construction by the end of 2016.

The change to a start-of-construction eligibility requirement for the ITC is one the solar industry has been seeking for years. When Congress last renewed the credits, at the beginning of 2013, it provided the same tweak to the PTC, which allowed wind developers to rebound after a sharp downturn the prior year and maintain a robust project portfolio this year despite the PTC’s expiration.

Click here to read a copy of the bill.

Click here for a summary.