House panel rejects bid to preserve renewables deal

Source: Geof Koss, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, November 10, 2017

The House Ways and Means Committee yesterday turned back a Democratic effort to keep intact a 2015 deal that extended key renewable energy tax breaks.

The panel voted 15-22 against an amendment by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) that would have stripped from the GOP tax overhaul provisions to reduce the value of the renewable production tax credit (PTC) and impose new qualification terms on projects.

Renewable sectors have said tax writers should honor the 2015 deal that extended and phased down the PTC and investment tax credit. The House bill would also do away with a long-term credit for solar in 2027 (E&E Daily, Nov. 3).

“If you make a deal, honor it, especially if they’re acting on that promise,” Blumenauer urged his colleagues.

He noted that the House bill would retroactively repeal the agreement, threatening 50,000 jobs and billions in planned investment.

“This represents a horrible failure of the process,” he said.

But Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), who opposes the PTC, said the incentive has “too much risk and way too much abuse in it.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) praised the PTC for pushing his state to become the top wind producer. “This credit has helped get our renewable energy moving there,” he said.

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R), who also hails from Texas, told renewables backers on the committee that “we will continue to work with you in this area.”

Brady’s comments were enough for Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), who described himself as a “strong voice” for renewables but said he would oppose Blumenauer’s amendment because of the chairman’s commitment.

Former Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin (D-Mich.) criticized Brady’s pledge as hollow, given that the provision limiting the PTC and ITC is already in the bill. “That doesn’t work; it doesn’t make sense,” he complained.

Levin noted that he was considering offering an amendment to restore the tax credit for electric vehicles, which is repealed in the House tax bill, but feared it would be voted down.

“I was afraid you’d say you’d continue to work with us at the same time you delete the credit,” Levin added.

Ways and Means is working through a handful of Democratic amendments before turning to a revised chairman’s mark that has yet to be unveiled.

Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to unveil its own tax reform bill later today. Republicans on the Finance Committee from the Midwest have signaled that they plan to keep the 2015 renewables deal intact. A committee markup on that bill is expected next week.