Renewables groups, including hydro, urge Congress to act on incentives

More than 100 organizations and companies involved in renewable energy sent a letter to President Bush and both houses of Congress urging fast action on energy legislation to extend federal tax incentives for renewables including hydropower and ocean energies.

Congress has been deadlocked on energy legislation since August when the House passed legislation extending a production tax credit for renewables, including some hydro, making improvements to a Clean Renewable Energy Bond incentive program for public power systems, and adopting a national renewables portfolio standard. (HNN 10/15/07) However, the Senate adopted a markedly different version in June, refusing to add $32 billion in clean energy tax incentives and a renewables portfolio standard to its bill.

The renewables groups signing the letter included the National Hydropower Association and many companies involved in the hydropower industry, in addition to representatives of other renewables industries.

�While various useful enhancements of these credits have been proposed by many of us, we would emphasize that there is no single action as important to all of us as the prompt approval of legislation to extend renewable energy tax incentives that promote new investment in these industries,� said the letter, released Oct. 31.

The groups said the production tax credit for renewable energy plants, Clean Renewable Energy bonds, and investment tax credits for commercial and residential solar and fuel cell technologies are vital to ensure continued growth in electricity production from renewables. The incentives, which will expire without extension, were expanded in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

�This has spurred development of thousands of megawatts of new renewable power projects across the country, but significant market acceleration created by these tax incentives is about to stall if Congress does not act to extend these programs,� the letter said. �Companies across the country are facing imminent decisions about whether to move forward with new renewable energy projects, and if these credits are not extended many will be downsized or put on hold.�

The two bills are markedly different in other areas. The Senate bill hikes auto fuel standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. That would be the first substantial efficiency increase in nearly 30 years. The bill also mandates a four-fold boost in ethanol in motor gasoline by 2022.

The House bill lacks similar fuel efficiency standards, which U.S. automobile executives say could devastate struggling U.S. automakers. Instead, it strips $16 billion in tax incentives away from the petroleum industry and puts it toward renewable energy.

The White House warned Congress that Bush could veto energy legislation if it raises taxes on oil producers to pay for renewables, or if it includes a national renewables portfolio standard.

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