Despite a standoff between the House and Senate and approaching congressional adjournment, advocates of wind and solar power are hopeful that lawmakers will find a way to extend at least $15 billion of renewable-energy tax breaks. Existing tax incentives for wind and solar are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says he will work with the Senate “to see what can be done, even if it is next year.”
But some industry analysts predict the Capitol Hill stalemate over the energy-tax “extenders” may be resolved after the Nov. 4 election.
“We expect the pressure on Democrats to return to this tax legislation will be significant and at this time believe there is still a good possibility that these key tax extensions will get done, but not before November,” say Stanford Group Co. analysts Christine Tezak and Whitney Stanco.
The Senate has stood by the $17-billion energy tax-break package that it passed by an overwelming 93-2 vote on Sept 23. That measure pays for the energy incentives with revenue-raising provisions. The Senate bill also would shield millions of Americans from the alternative minimum tax, but without an offsetting revenue-raising provision.
The House bill, passed on Sept. 26 by a 257-166 vote, has $15 billion of renewable energy credits, non-energy business credits and revenue-raisers that were part of the Senate package.
The House insists the tax-credit package be entirely paid for. But Senate Republicans on Sept. 29 blocked an attempt by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to bring the House measure to a vote.
“The proposal the House put forward is not going to move in the Senate,” says Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who supported the Senate-passed bill.
About 5.4 gigawatts of utility-scale solar projects are on hold in Arizona, California and Florida because of the tax-credit situation, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. “The entire pipeline [of wind projects] for 2009 is in the balance,” says American Wind Energy Association spokeswoman Christine Real de Azua. “The vast majority of projects include the tax credits in their financing.”