UPDATE – U.S. House again passes renewables incentives

The House again Feb. 27 passed legislation to extend expiring production tax credits and Clean Renewable Energy Bonds for renewable energy projects including some hydropower.

The House passed the bill, 236-182, after rejecting a motion by Rep. Philip English, R-Pa., to send the bill back to committee with instructions to remove language that would repeal $18 billion in tax incentives for investments in production by oil companies.

Like the previous versions of the legislation this year, it is expected to face a filibuster threat from Senate Republicans opposed to the oil company tax increase. Additionally, the White House promised Feb. 26 that President Bush would veto the measure due to the oil company tax hike intended to finance continuation of the renewables incentives.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., introduced the legislation, H.R. 5351, which includes a three-year extension of the renewable energy incentives. (HNN 2/22/08)

In previous attempts, there were enough senators opposed to increasing taxes on the oil companies to prevent the legislation from passage.

The production tax credit extension would extend the in-service date for eligible renewables projects through Dec. 31, 2011, and add marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy to the list of qualified energy projects. The legislation also would authorize $2 billion for the Clean Renewable Energy Bond program, 60 percent of which would be used to benefit public power providers and 40 percent to benefit electric cooperatives. (HNN 2/12/08)

The bill defines marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy to include energy from: waves, tides, and currents in oceans, estuaries, and tidal areas; free-flowing water in rivers, lakes, and streams; and free-flowing water in an irrigation system, canal, or other man-made channel, including projects that use non-mechanical structures to accelerate the flow of water for the purpose of generating electric power. Qualified facilities must have a nameplate capacity of at least 150 kW and be placed in service before Jan. 1, 2012.

Existing qualified energy sources include small irrigation hydropower of less that 5 MW, and “incremental” hydro: efficiency improvements or capacity additions to existing hydro projects, and the addition of hydropower generation to existing non-hydropower water resources facilities.

Rangel’s measure is similar to one that would have provided a one-year extension of production tax credits that supporters failed to attach to an economic stimulus bill, primarily due to the oil industry tax hike. Congress passed the economic stimulus bill Feb. 7, without renewing the renewables incentives, scheduled to expire Dec. 31, 2008. (HNN 2/8/08) Similarly, Congress deleted the incentives extension language from an energy bill that passed in December. (HNN 12/14/07)


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