U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa – along with 16 more members of Congress – recently introduced new legislation to extend expired clean energy incentives, including the production tax credit (PTC). The bill has received much fanfare and comes as other leaders in Congress keep pushing to jump-start a similar bill, the stalled EXPIRE Act, in the U.S. Senate.
Blumenauer says H.R.5559, called the ‘Bridge to a Clean Energy Future Act of 2014,’ would extend critical incentives for two years in order to provide market certainty, strengthen investment, and make sure clean energy is on an even playing field with the fossil fuel industry.
For example, the legislation would extend the PTC, as well as a wind developers' option to choose an investment tax credit (ITC) in lieu of the PTC, through 2016. The bill would also allow the solar industry to access credits at the start of a project's construction. The legislation contains many provisions for other clean energy resources, such as energy efficiency and biofuels.
"I'm eager to push this across the finish line this Congress," comments Blumenauer. "My state of Oregon is a leader in renewable energy technologies, and Dave's state of Iowa is the second largest wind energy producer in the nation, so we understand the importance of stability and security in the clean energy sector."
Loebsack adds, "The production tax credit has helped the still-growing U.S. wind energy industry employ 80,000 Americans, including thousands of Iowans. Like all businesses, the wind energy sector needs stability and predictability so long-term investments and business decisions can be made.
"The continued expiration of the PTC causes slow-downs at manufacturing facilities and could lead to additional layoffs," he adds. "For our nation to move toward energy independence and continued job growth, we need to prioritize clean energy like wind and act immediately to pass this extension of the PTC."
Environmental advocates have welcomed the legislation. Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says, "Americans are suffering right now because some in Congress are blocking tax incentives for clean energy."
Matzner continues, "This commonsense bill sends a clear message: When Congress returns in November, anyone who cares about saving jobs and cutting pollution should make restoring clean energy incentives priority one."
The Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA) has also praised H.R.5559 for including an extension of the ITC option.
Jennifer Jenkins, executive director of the DWEA, says, "A renewed ITC will provide business certainty to the community and distributed wind segments of the wind industry that are generally unable to utilize the PTC. This incentive enables them to continue to drive economic development across farms, schools, business and communities across the country.
"Distributed wind projects are present in all 50 states, providing clean, homegrown, affordable power – helping to keep the lights on and Americans at work. In order for this industry to continue to grow and expand, we urge swift passage of the ITC when Congress returns from recess."