WASHINGTON (February 27, 2008) – Many renewable industries facing collapse moved one step closer to a reprieve today when the House of Representatives voted 236-182 in favor of the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008 (HR 5351).
Many energy incentives contained in the 2005 energy bill are set to expire by the end of 2008. Without extending tax incentives to invest in renewable industries, many companies would face massive layoffs starting as early as next month.
“We’re on the cusp of a new, clean energy economy,” said Jim Presswood, energy advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Congress needs to give consumers and businesses the boost they need to choose energy efficiency and clean renewable energy resources. Without tax incentives to use renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, most companies won’t be able to afford new projects designed to reduce global warming emissions.”
Extensions in HR 5351 for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies are for multiple years, which is essential to developing the clean energy technology industry long term. While Congress historically extends clean energy incentives in two-year increments, many pieces within the bill are valid for up to eight years in some cases, reducing the impact of a boom-bust cycle for the technologies.
Buildings account for nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The new bill includes tax credits for increasing the efficiency of commercial buildings, the purchase of high efficiency home heating and cooling equipment, the production of efficient home appliances, and installation of efficiency retrofits in existing homes. These incentives would reduce the amount of fossil fuels that would be burned to power and heat buildings in our country. They would also increase demand for skilled workers needed to produce and install efficiency technologies.
Motor vehicles are responsible for two-thirds of U.S. oil use and one-fifth of greenhouse gases. The new bill expands the tax credit for plug-in hybrid vehicles from $3,000 to $4,000, which rely on electricity for the first 20-40 miles before they consume any gasoline. The legislation also eliminates a tax break for the purchase of a gas-guzzling SUV.
“The clean energy technology incentives in HR 5351 would be paid for by rolling back subsidies to Big Oil,” said Presswood. “The subsidies repealed in the bill average about $1.7 billion per year, which is more than reasonable considering the profits of the big five oil companies were approximately $123 billion in 2007.”