What You Need to Know About the Senate Energy Bill


While there certainly is no ideal time to have one’s financial institutions come crumbling down, the collapse of America’s major banks was particularly poorly timed for those hoping to have the renewable energy credits extended before Congress adjourned. The Senate pushed back a vote from Friday to this week on the tax credits, but with the need to pass legislation on the financial bailout, the renewable tax credits could easily take a back seat. Meanwhile, the much touted bipartisan “Gang of 20” has pulled their bill and plan to reintroduce it next year. Update: The Senate has passed an amended energy package with $18 billion for clean energy and it’s heading back to the House now for a vote, maybe.

The Senate is set to take up debate of the energy bill the House just passed some time this week. House Democrats pushed through a bill last week with almost no Republican support that does extend the renewable energy credits but manages to simultaneously infuriate both the treehuggers and the “drill, baby, drill” contingent. The bill allows for offshore drilling 100 miles offshore, or 50 miles if states would allow it.

The clock is ticking as Congress is set to adjourn for the year at the end of this week. An appropriations bill must also be passed to keep the government funded beyond Oct. 1st when the governmental fiscal year ends. Republicans have threatened to block such a bill, effectively shutting the government down, if Democrats don’t vote to lift the ban on offshore drilling.

The renewable energy provisions to be debated were floated in the Senate’s “The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008.” To see what’s at stake for cleantech, check out the energy stipulations after the jump.

Extension of the Production Tax Credit: The production tax credit for power generated via wind would be extended for one year and would extend for two years a similar credit for tidal and wave energy generation.

Extension of the Investment Tax Credit: The 30 percent tax credit for investing in solar, wind, geothermal and ocean energy equipment would be extended eight years, including residential solar installations.

Energy Efficiency Tax Credit: Homeowners could claim a 10 percent investment credit for eight years on energy efficiency measures like insulation and efficient windows, water heaters and heating and cooling equipment.

Plug-In Electric Cars Tax Credit: Consumers could collect a tax credit of $2,500 to $7,500 for the purchase of a plug-in electric car, depending on the capacity of the battery.

Clean Coal Tax Credits: $1.5 billion would be put toward “advanced coal electricity projects and certain coal gasification projects that demonstrate the greatest potential for carbon capture and sequestration.”

CO2 Capture Credit: The bill provides a $10 credit per ton for the first 75 million
metric tons of CO2 captured used in enhanced oil recovery and $20 credit per ton for CO2 captured and permanently sequestered underground.


Steve Jones

In an earlier version, I saw the ITC cap had been lifted on residential solar investments (currently 30% up to $2K) and then I saw it had just been raised to $4K. The former has the potential to be a significant change in policy and a sizable increase in the residential solar subsidy, the latter not so much. Any idea if this still made it into the bill?

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