Sens. Bingaman & Snowe urge quick passage of bipartisan clean energy tax incentives

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



Washington, Sept. 30 - The House and Senate have left town to campaign but are laying the groundwork for a busy lame-duck session due to start Nov. 15. With energy legislation still a priority for many lawmakers and the administration, Senate Energy Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee Ranking Member Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced a comprehensive package of advanced energy tax incentives Wednesday to:

  • “create thousands of clean-energy and manufacturing jobs,”
  • “enable American businesses and families to make long-term energy-savings investments,”
  • “reduce greenhouse gases and,”
  • “increase U.S. energy security.”

The Senators - longtime leaders in developing sound tax incentives for clean renewable energy, energy efficiency and carbon mitigation - are urging their colleagues to take up and pass their “Advanced Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2010,” S. 3935, before Congress adjourns in December.

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The bill focuses broadly on building and industrial energy efficiency, domestic manufacturing, emerging clean energy technologies, and carbon mitigation.

“We must continue to ensure that the Tax Code contains well-designed incentives that will help us transition to an energy efficient economy,” Bingaman explained. “Our bill will significantly expand domestic clean energy manufacturing, help American businesses and families reduce their energy use and dependence on fossil fuels, and create thousands of jobs. This is a common-sense, bipartisan proposal that deserves priority consideration.”

“For far too long our country's energy strategy has prioritized the technologies of the past while our policy debate has languished in partisanship. The world is moving ahead with bold action on innovative technologies and it is past time that we set a new course for how we use and think about energy,” Snowe said. “Energy efficiency has emerged as one of the most effective and expeditious initiatives that can be taken to preserve valuable resources for producers and consumers and I believe we can build upon the success of past tax credits with these critical energy efficiency tax incentives, which will spark innovation in our building and industrial sector and afford our constituents and businesses financial incentives to simultaneously reduce their energy bills and invest in our economy. I appreciate working with Senator Bingaman on this comprehensive energy tax package and look forward to enacting these provisions into law.”

S. 3935 incorporates several bills the senators jointly introduced earlier this Congress alongside numerous new provisions. For a summary of its provisions, go to: http://bingaman.senate.gov/policy/aetia_summ.pdf

Key points of the Bingaman/Snowe bill include:

  • “Enable home and business owners to defray upfront costs of investing in energy-saving technologies, including the introduction of performance-based tax credits for whole home retrofits.”
  • “Make $2.5 billion in tax credits available to attract manufacturers of technologies that harness clean renewable energy or enhance energy efficiency, and establish a $1 billion tax credit program to enable American manufacturers to undertake energy-saving measures that advance their competitiveness.”
  • “Facilitate the growth of renewable electricity by creating a tax incentive for energy storage systems, which will enable utilities to deploy intermittent energy sources like wind and solar power while reducing energy demands during peak hours and contributing to an overall more reliable smart grid.”
  • “Retool the tax credit for carbon capture and storage (CCS) to give CCS projects greater certainty.”

Bingaman has said that if the Senate is unable to pass the American Clean Energy Leadership Act (ACELA) - which the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee reported on a strong bipartisan basis in 2009 - Congress ought to take up and pass several priority bills. Among these is a bill he wrote with Senator Brownback (R-KS) to create a national Renewable Energy Standard, a bill unanimously reported by the Energy & Natural Resources Committee to address issues related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and S. 3935.

The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Bingaman and Snowe are senior members of that committee, and Bingaman chairs its Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources & Infrastructure.

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