Senate Dems float plan to extend credit for residential systems

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Senate Democrats introduced legislation yesterday that would extend a tax credit for residential renewable energy systems.

The bill would extend by five years the Residential Energy Efficiency Property Credit, a financial incentive for homeowners that invest in clean energy technology that was put in place in 2006.

The tax credit applies to residential rooftop solar systems, solar water heaters, geothermal pumps and small wind turbines but is set to expire at the end of 2016.

“Since 2006, this tax credit has made it more affordable for families to make home energy upgrades while also helping create American jobs in construction and manufacturing,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said in a statement.

Schatz co-sponsored the legislation with Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Dianne Feinstein of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Al Franken of Minnesota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

“Extending this tax credit will help residential clean energy options like solar continue to grow,” Whitehouse said.

The solar industry has invested $66 billion in new projects and created 150,000 jobs since the tax credit was established, according to a fact sheet on the legislation.

Roughly 97 percent of the nation’s solar capacity has come online since the incentive and a separate investment tax credit for solar were implemented in 2006.

The bill comes as the Senate prepares to mark up a tax extenders package this month that will likely include several renewable energy incentives.

Congress approved a retroactive extension of a production tax credit for wind at the end of last year, but it only covered wind projects through 2014, and the measure has not been extended since then. The investment tax credit for solar is scheduled to expire at the end of next year.