Senate panel endorses extending tax aid for renewables, some hydro

The Senate Finance Committee endorsed a package of energy tax incentives June 19, including five-year extensions for the renewable electricity production tax credit and Clean Renewable Energy Bonds offered to hydropower project owners.

In terms of the production tax credit, the $32.1 billion package would extend the placed-in-service date for five years, through Dec. 31, 2013, for qualifying facilities, including hydropower and small irrigation hydro. The proposal also adds ocean wave, current, and tidal energy as qualifying resources, and maintains the credit rate for electricity at 2007 levels, by eliminating inflation adjustment for electricity sold after Dec. 31, 2006.

The package would extend the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program to Jan. 1, 2014, from Jan. 1, 2009. It also would authorize $900 million for the program in each of calendar years 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, for a total of $3.6 billion. The maximum bonding allocation available to government bodies per year is $563 million, of which at least half must be directed to projects exceeding $10 million in expected capital expenditures.

By a vote of 15-5, the Finance Committee approved the package, sending it to the full Senate, where lawmakers were debating dozens of amendments to a comprehensive energy bill. (HNN 6/18/07) The committee said changes to tax laws for major oil and gas companies would help offset the cost of the package.

In the House, the Ways and Means Committee met June 20 to advance its own version of energy tax legislation, including some provisions similar to the Senate committee measure. While the Senate was expected to try to add its tax incentives to the energy bill by the end of the week, the House is expected to act at a later date. A member of the Ways and Means Committee noted the House Energy and Commerce Committee is working on different parts of a larger energy bill to be considered by the full House.

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