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Politics Democrats push tax credits to bolster clean energy

01:30  01 december  2021
01:30  01 december  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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The seven potential tax credit provisions were the subject of a Feb. 27 letter that 24 environmental advocacy groups and renewable energy trade associations sent to the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. The groups pushed Congress to prioritize codifying clean A number of the provisions that Democrats are currently pushing for are also featured in the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now Act, which was released as a House Ways and Means Committee discussion draft in November, but has yet to be formally introduced.

Two U.S. senators from states with declining manufacturing sectors are pushing to invest billion through tax credits to create clean energy jobs. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan unveiled legislation Monday that aims to help rural communities that have lost jobs in the The proposal is meant to incentivize companies producing batteries, electric and fuel cell vehicles, semiconductor chips and other renewable energy technologies. The two Democrats said it would aim to uplift Appalachia, where the decline of coal has devastated local economies, and other parts of the

Industry groups and experts see Democrats' proposed clean energy tax credits as a major boost for expanding alternative energy deployment and tackling climate change, underscoring the high stakes as the party seeks to advance the measures.

a view of the net: crimson solar project department of the interior haaland biden administration environment sustainable reusable energy © Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images crimson solar project department of the interior haaland biden administration environment sustainable reusable energy

Modeling has shown that the effects of the credits included in the Build Back Better package could as much as double the current record rate of renewable deployment and cut significant emissions from the U.S. electric sector.

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Top Senate Democrats have in recent days studied a tax of per ton on oil and gas producers that they think could raise between 0 billion and 0 billion in new tax revenue, according to two aides familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the measure is not yet finalized. The biggest climate provisions in the bill — clean energy payments to utility companies, clean energy tax credits for large firms and tax incentives for purchases of electric vehicles and bikes — seek to make the clean energy transition politically attractive through incentives rather than costs.

The push from rank-and-file Democrats that had been done behind closed doors previously has started to spill into the open. Rep. Dan Kildee told POLITICO that Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) had expressed his intention to include language to extend renewable energy tax credits into legislation. | Clean energy groups say the sector has shed 600,000 jobs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and they are increasingly leaning on their Democratic allies in Congress to deliver assistance beyond the Paycheck Protection Program and small business loans that have

The legislation, the core of President Biden's domestic agenda, contains a number of tax credits expected to benefit energy sources including solar, wind and nuclear and bolster technologies like storage, transmission and carbon capture.

Under the bill, renewables like wind and solar would be able to use either a tax credit that gives them money based on how much power they produce or a tax credit that allows companies to deduct as much as 30 percent of their investment.

Both the production tax credit (PTC) and the investment tax credit (ITC) would last through 2026. These credits are currently already in existence, but the legislation would extend them and bring the ITC up from its current 26 percent cap.

Under the legislation, people using these credits would also be able to receive tax benefits as a direct payment - instead of through more complicated mechanisms.

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While both sides are eager to push clean energy projects forward and make them a bigger part of the nation’s electrical grid, their disagreements will test Biden’s vow to be both the greenest and the most pro-union president in history. The clash is playing out in Congress, where Democrats are cranking Other Senate and House Democrats have their own boosts to green infrastructure waiting in the wings. But these bills also require companies taking the tax credits to ensure a variety of labor protections, from paying the prevailing wage set by the Department of Labor, which is typically the union-rate in

Residential solar tax credits were created in 2005, essentially giving taxpayers 30% off the price of a home solar installation. They were extended annually or bi-annually until 2015 when they got a long-term extension which included a phase down: dropping to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021 and down to zero after 2021. Under the new legislation, expected to be signed into law within days, the residential solar tax credit would stay at 26% for 2021 and 2022, and then drop to 22% in 2023, according to a Democratic Congressional aide. Say you have a contract for a ,000 16 kW LG Solar system for

Suzanne Leta, head of policy and strategy at the solar energy firm SunPower, said the expansion of the solar investment tax credit was among the legislation's "most impactful" climate provisions.

Currently, she noted, the tax credit is only available for deployed solar energy, but provisions in the reconciliation package would expand it to microgrids and standalone battery storage.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where the party cannot afford any defections. While the clean energy tax credits have not been considered to be among the most contentious provisions, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has expressed opposition to several other components including on climate.

Advocates and modelers say that the tax credits overall would be a boon for clean energy - and help it outcompete fossil fuels.

"All that additional wind and solar is now not just getting built to meet the next set of electric demand as demand grows, but is also starting to eat into existing fossil generation," said John Larsen, a director at research organization Rhodium Group.

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Renewable Energy Tax Credits . The energy provisions have been attached to must-pass legislation to continue funding government operations until the end of the fiscal year and to provide economic relief during the ongoing pandemic. The bill has the support of the leadership of both parties, in both The tax credits on which developers and owners of renewable energy projects rely are routinely designed by Congress to phase out and expire, creating a strong but temporary incentive to build projects as quickly as possible. Permanent credits lack urgency; credits soon to expire attract too little interest.

"Wind and solar, especially with the tax credits, are now the cheapest electrons available," he said.

Modeling by Rhodium Group has shown that the tax credits could result in the annual deployment of between 31 gigawatts and 65 gigawatts of new renewables on average over the next several years - enough to power up to 12 million average U.S. homes. By comparison, deployment hit a record 30 gigawatts in 2020.

In addition to tax credits for renewables, the package also has a new tax credit for nuclear power plants based on how much electricity they produce and sell. It also has a credit for fossil fuel facilities that use technology to capture their emissions, though this provision is controversial among environmentalists who argue it could extend the life of coal plants as they weigh whether pursuing this type of technology is feasible.

Renewable energy leaders told The Hill that they see the credits as key for expanding their industry.

Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, touted the credits as giving investors, developers and manufacturers "the certainty that businesses want" since they last for several years.

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But, he said, the package isn't perfect. In particular, Wetstone lamented changes to corporate tax laws that get rid of an accelerated write-off benefit, saying this means companies will need to raise more capital upfront to build renewable energy projects.

Asked about write-offs on Tuesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told reporters, "We believe renewable energy is fully protected under the language."

The House recently passed the legislation in a mostly party-line vote, with just one Democratic defector. But the bill faces a tougher path in the Senate, where Manchin and others have demanded changes on a host of issues.

Manchin hinted as recently as Tuesday that additional energy provisions could change following a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The West Virginia senator has raised objections to a program that would penalize drillers for methane emissions and another seeking to incentivize consumers to buy union-built electric vehicles. Still, the clean energy tax credits could also be a casualty if negotiations fall through.

Amid uncertainty about the fate of the package, Leta was sanguine about the likelihood the renewable tax credits will make it into the final version.

"While the bill has been viewed as partisan in nature, clean energy tax credits are actually ... broadly supported on both sides of the aisle and by American consumers," she told The Hill last week.

"And they are incredibly consumer friendly, which I think further solidifies their support in Congress."

Erin Duncan, vice president of congressional affairs at the solar energy trade group SEIA, also said the renewable energy provisions should be uncontroversial.

"There are wind, solar and storage jobs in every state and in red and blue congressional districts," she said.

- Naomi Jagoda contributed to this report.

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