McDonald’s, Pepsi call on Congress to include renewable energy in COVID-19 relief

Source: BY ABIGAIL MIHALY, The Hill • Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2020

McDonald’s and Pepsi are calling on Congress to include green energy in the next COVID-19 relief package, arguing the coronavirus recession poses long-term damage to the renewable energy industry.

“Without support, our businesses will be less able to use our buying-power to drive job creation and economic growth in the renewable energy industry,” more than 30 companies wrote in a letter sent to congressional leaders Tuesday.

Like many industries hit hard during the pandemic, renewable energy is suffering from supply chain disruptions, construction and permitting delays and a constrained tax equity market, the letter said, adding that renewable energy is a key source of job creation.

The companies cited a recent analysis by BW Research Partnership that found that 18 percent of clean energy workers filed for unemployment in recent months.

To help mitigate that, the companies want Congress to create a direct pay option, such as a cash grant, for the production tax credit and the investment tax credit — two credits for electricity generated using resources like wind and solar.

The companies argue that with a likely reduction in the supply of tax equity — investors willing to put money into projects in exchange for the tax credits — direct pay would better provide immediate cash flow to developers, and encourage financiers to keep spending on renewable energy projects.

Energy-related provisions, however, have largely been left off the coronavirus-relief priority list on Capitol Hill. While Democrats have discussed including funding for renewable energy projects in recent months, the energy industry has not found a place in the $3 trillion in relief funding approved by Congress since the pandemic began.

The Environmental Defense Fund released a statement Tuesday in support of the letter from top companies, saying the “businesses are using their voices to advocate for policies consistent with their environmental goals. They’re also setting an example for others to follow.”

Other signatories to the letter included Levi Stauss & Co., Adobe, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, which includes companies like Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Comcast, Bank of America, Best Buy, Microsoft and Starbucks.