There's great news out this week about the federal tax credits for wind and solar power that were extended as part of December's omnibus spending bill: By 2020, these tax incentives--the Production Tax Credit for Wind Power and the Solar Investment Tax Credit--will, all on their own, help deploy as many as 53 gigawatts of wind and solar power. That's enough to juice up almost 14 million homes. Importantly, they can cut carbon pollution from our country's electric sector by at least 540 million metric tonnes cumulatively between 2016 and 2030. (On average, over the 15-year period, that's 36 million tons of reductions, or the equivalent of taking nearly 8 million cars off the road.) Those are the results reported in a new evaluation of the tax credits' impacts, conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Over the next 5 years, federal renewable energy tax credits will help deploy 48-53 gigawatts of clean energy. Supporters across the country helped get the legislation through a bogged-down Congress. Good work! (Photo: Vote Solar)
Of course, those numbers are good news for our climate: When it comes to combating climate change, the more renewable energy we deploy, and the faster we deploy it, the better. And it's good news for our growing national renewable energy industry, which now employs more than 280,000 workers in wind and solar power alone. (Job numbers weren't included in the NREL analysis. But industry watchers predict that they'll climb along with deployment.)
All this wind and solar power deployment is good news for our health, too: Displacing dirty fossil-fuel power with renewable energy means we'll have cleaner air to breathe and we'll cut down on the startlingly high numbers of premature deaths that occur in the US each year as a result of air pollution. (In fact, the US sees about 80,000 air-pollution-related deaths annually. That's about twice the number who die from breast cancer.)
Americans overwhelmingly favor government support for clean energy, as poll after poll shows. And though these tax credits were bogged down in Congress, our collective efforts on their behalf--our visits to elected officials, our letters to the editor, our lawn signs and marches--helped renew them, despite many delays. Now that NREL has calculated their impacts, it's empowering to know how much impact, together, we clean energy supporters can have.