UPDATE – Senate unmoved by incentives linked to tax hikes

For the second time in a week, the U.S. Senate blocked debate June 17 of a bill to offer US$17.7 billion in tax incentives including extension of expiring production tax credits for some hydropower and of the Clean Renewable Energy Bond program.

Senate again failed to garner enough votes to limit debate and move to a vote, leaving the fate of the clean energy credits uncertain. Extension of renewable energy credits was the most expensive portion of the bill, at about US$7 billion over 10 years.

The Senate also failed June 10 to muster sufficient votes to prevent a threatened filibuster against the House-passed bill. (HNN 6/10/08) Senators objected to other provisions in the bill, including tax increases to offset the cost of the renewables incentives.

The House passed the bill May 21, 263-160, largely along party lines. (HNN 5/21/08)

The bill includes a three-year extension — from Dec. 31, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2011 — for “incremental” hydro: efficiency improvements or capacity additions to existing hydro projects, and the addition of hydropower generation to existing non-hydropower water resources facilities. It also includes irrigation hydropower of less that 5 MW.

The bill would add ocean, tidal, in-stream hydrokinetic, and conduit waterpower technologies to the list of renewables eligible for production tax credits.

The bill also includes an additional $2 billion in bonding authority for clean energy bonds to be issued by state, local, and tribal governments; public power utilities; and electric cooperatives.

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