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Congress Eyes 10-Year Extension For Renewable Energy Tax Credits

Cleantech 2007 Examines Measure That Would Boost R&D in Solar, Fuel Cells.

Efforts are underway in Congress to extend tax credits for renewable energy technologies, including solar panels and fuel cells for 10 years.

The pending legislation would extend tax credits through 2016 for an important set of renewable energy and cleantech technologies, including solar energy, fuel cells, solar hybrid lighting, micro-turbines and even geo-thermal. Without extensions, these credits are due to expire in 2008.

These bills and other ways government can help spur renewables and cleantech private investment will be discussed by experts during Cleantech 2007 (May 23-24 in Santa Clara, California). The Cleantech 2007 event features an address from Representative Jerry McNerney (California), a strong supporter of renewable energy policies and practices, and a member of several key House committees on commerce, energy and the environment.

“This legislation provides some important incentives for R&D and manufacturing advances for a number of important renewable energy sources,” said Bart Romanowicz, Executive Director-Technology at TechConnect.org, producers of the Cleantech 2007 event. “A 10-year extension [of tax credits] would certainly send a strong signal to many R&D communities working on renewable energies that the country values their on-going research to enable broader use of solar and fuel cell technologies.”

Fuel cell developers and suppliers concur with TechConnect.org’s Romanowitz. “Long-term tax credits are essential for fuel cell commercialization [and] help build confidence among early adopters,” said Robert Rose, Executive Director of the US Fuel Cell Council.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates tax credits from the bills could fuel creation of 55,000 solar industry jobs by 2016, and “encourage states to invest billions of dollars in renewable energy infrastructure,” said SEIA President Rhone Resch.

Cleantech 2007 Looks at ‘Unprecedented Opportunities’

Cleantech 2007 offers attendees an entire 2-day conference dedicated to exploring how the many dimensions of government policy, investor interest and the state of clean-technologies sciences are coming together to present unprecedented opportunities.

“At Cleantech 2007, we’ll be looking in-depth at the robust state of cleantech R&D during our upcoming Cleantech 2007 event,” Romanowicz added. Cleantech 2007 will offer research and business professionals a one-stop event to bring them the top technologies, trends and investment opportunities in sustainable and clean technology/businesses. “Cleantech 2007 uniquely links scientists directly with business and financial experts in hopes of building new relationships that could enable new companies and projects in the Cleantech ecosystem,” Romanowicz said.

Cleantech will present these leading cleantech speaker experts from business, industry and government:

  • Vinod Khosla, founding CEO of Sun Microsystems, whose Khosla Ventures is one of the country’s premiere cleantech venture investment firms;
  • Loucas Tsakalakos, Project Leader at the General Electric - Global Research Center, and
  • Representative Jerry McNerney (California), a strong supporter of renewable energy policies and practices, and member of several key House committees on commerce, energy and the environment.

For more about Cleantech 2007, visit www.techconnect.org/Cleantech2007/

Inside S. 590/ H.R. 590 – The Details

The bills, offered in the House and Senate as Securing America’s Energy Independence Act (as HR. 590 and S. 590); on the House side, the act was introduced by Rep. Mike McNulty (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.). In the Senate, S. 590 was introduced by Sen. Gordon Smith (R.-Ore.) and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.)

Congress is seeing a lot of private companies stepping up to support renewable and clean technologies, and is taking steps to build that momentum with these bills.

"We are seeing renewed interest in expanding and investing in solar energy and fuel cell technologies,” said S. 590 co-sponsor Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). “The long-term extension of the credits will help companies plan for and acquire new equipment, creating a stable investment picture for these innovative technologies."

"Renewable energy sources, such as solar, are critical for the future of our national security, our economy and our environment," said Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.). "This bill provides a long-term extension of investment tax credits that will generate thousands of high-quality jobs in clean energy and make solar power more affordable for millions of Americans. I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that Congress makes the solar ITC extension a priority as we work to jump-start a clean energy infrastructure in the United States."

Other Senate sponsors of S. 590 are: Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Lugar (R-IN), John Kerry (D-MA), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Wayne Allard (R-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

Investment, Credit Provision of Proposed SAEI Act

The “Securing America's Energy Independence Act” includes the following provisions, to take effect for all equipment installed retroactive to January 1, 2007 and going forward:

Accelerated Depreciation: Creates a three-year accelerated depreciation period for all solar equipment eligible for the business solar tax credit.

Business Solar Tax Credit and Fuel Cell Tax Credit: Extends a 30 percent business credit, established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, for the purchase of fuel cell power plants, solar energy property, and fiber-optic property used to illuminate the inside of a structure. Changes the maximum credit to $1,500 for each half- kilowatt of capacity for solar PV equipment. Credits may be taken against the alternative minimum tax. Expires after December 31, 2016.

Residential Solar Tax Credit: Extends a 30-percent tax credit, created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, for the purchase of residential solar water heating and fuel cell property. Changes the maximum credit to $1,500 for each half-kilowatt of capacity for solar PV equipment and $1,000 for each kilowatt of capacity for fuel cells. Credits may be taken against the alternative minimum tax. Expires after December 31, 2016.

[The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R. 6), which expires in 2008, expanded the business energy tax credit for solar and geothermal energy property to include fuel cells and microturbines installed in 2006 and 2007, and to hybrid solar lighting systems installed on or after January 1, 2006.]

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