WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today applauded passage of a tax extenders package that includes extensions for key renewable energy technologies like wind, solar and biomass.
The package, which is the product of months of negotiations, will provide a one year extension of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy and refined coal, and a two year extension of the PTC for other energy sources. It also extends the 30 percent investment tax credit for solar energy for eight years.
“At long last, both parties have joined together to extend the essential tax credits for renewable energy, which were set to expire at the end of the year. Renewables like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal will play an essential role in our energy future, and the renewable energy tax credits are necessary to help these industries continue to grow. I am pleased that the Senate has passed this extension, and I look forward to quick action in the House,” Domenici said.
In addition to extending the PTC and solar tax credits, the legislation will increase tax credits for fuel cells and provide a new tax credit for geothermal heat pumps. The bill also removes the credit cap for solar electric investments and authorizes $800 million for new clean renewable energy bonds to finance facilities that generate electricity from clean sources.
In addition to the renewable energy tax credits, the tax package passed by the Senate also includes a number of major priorities for Senator Domenici, including the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity Act, and legislation that will adjust the alternative minimum tax (AMT) to alleviate the tax burden for middle-class Americans. The bill also includes a reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act and the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program.
Domenici Statement on Renewable Energy Tax Extenders
MR. PRESIDENT: As a Senator that not only represents a leader in renewable energy technology, but also helps run the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I am pleased that we have finally reached a compromise which will allow us to extend important tax credits for renewable energy.
History tells us that our most promising technologies frequently need government assistance in order to get off the ground and become economically viable. One of the most effective ways we can do this is through our tax code.
Our nation is facing unprecedented challenges—in our financial markets, and in energy. I have spent much of my time over the last few months talking about the need to build a bridge toward our energy future. I believe that bridge consists of increased oil and gas production from American lands offshore. I am pleased to note that since the time I first introduced legislation to open up lands offshore in May, there has been a sea change in both public opinion and the opinions of my colleagues on this issue.
But the domestic oil and gas that I’m talking about is not the entire solution—in fact, as I said, it is just a bridge to the ultimate solution—and that is the development of new technologies that will allow us to use far less oil. Those technologies include plug-in hybrid cars as well as renewable energy sources like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.
In 2005, as chairman of the Energy Committee, I was pleased to lead the Senate to pass the largest and longest tax credits for renewable energy in history. We have renewed those tax credits several times since then, but these credits are once again set to expire. Every time they get close to expiring, investments in the industry begin to dry up, and the uncertainty hurts our nation’s ability to deploy these technologies in a timely and cost-effective manner.
We have struggled with the tax extensions during this Congress, because, frankly, the Majority has decided to play politics with them. For the first time in history, they have demanded that they be offset through tax increases. Although the Senate voted 88-8 to extend them without those tax increases earlier this year, the House refused to consider our proposal, and the renewable energy industry has suffered as a result.
At last, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel—if the House of Representatives doesn’t seek to politicize this issue once again. A reasonable, commonsense agreement to extend the tax credits for renewable energy, as well as do several other important things like Mental Health Parity and fixing the AMT problem, has been reached. I will address those subjects in greater detail, but it should be noted that the agreement now before us does offset much of the cost of the tax credit extensions, but it does so in a way that will not harm domestic production of energy.
I urge my colleagues to support this agreement in its totality, and I sincerely hope that the House will take up this entire package and pass it so that these essential tax credits will once again not be allowed to expire.