‘Orphaned’ renewable credits get reprieve in House bill

Source: By Geof Koss, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, August 16, 2019

An assortment of expired renewable energy sources would see long-term extensions under new bipartisan House legislation introduced this week.

The “Renewable Electricity Tax Credit Equalization Act,” introduced Tuesday by Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.), would extend the investment tax credit (ITC) and production tax credit (PTC) for qualified projects — including biomass, hydropower and marine energy, biogas, and waste-to-energy facilities — that begin construction before 2025.

While the ITC and PTC are both undergoing a multiyear phase-down for solar and wind, those incentives expired for the sources addressed in the new bill in 2017.

Efforts to revive the breaks have lagged, as House and Senate tax writers look for an opening to address the bipartisan desire in both chambers to legislate on energy incentives.

The orphaned credits — so named because they were initially left out of the 2015 tax deal that extended and phased out the ITC and PTC for wind and solar — would be partially extended under an extenders package that passed the Ways and Means Committee in June (E&E News PM, June 18).

They would receive similar treatment under a bipartisan extenders package offered earlier this year by Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

However, affected trade groups have pressed for longer extensions and modifications to their “unfair” treatment under the ITC and PTC.

Stefanik and Peters’ bill contains one change sought by industry sectors: It eliminates the reduction of the PTC for the covered technologies.

The bill drew applause from industry trade groups that called for it to be addressed in an expected fall debate over extenders.

“The disparity in the tax code puts hydropower at an economic disadvantage and stymies new infrastructure investment,” said National Hydropower Association CEO Malcolm Woolf in a statement.

The bill was also praised by the Biomass Power Association. “For yet another year, critical incentives that drive investment in biomass power and other renewable baseload technologies have been allowed to lapse,” said the group’s president and CEO, Bob Cleaves.

The path forward on extenders is unclear. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) promised committee members in June that he would move a broad “green energy package” before the end of the year (E&E Daily, June 21).

Grassley told reporters before the August recess that he is awaiting recommendations from a series of Finance Committee task forces examining extenders that will inform the next legislative steps, which he signaled would include trying to add whatever tax package emerges for the year-end spending bill.