U.S. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has introduced a bill to overhaul and streamline the current system for federal energy tax credits.
According to Wyden, the proposed Clean Energy for America Act includes technology-neutral tax credits for domestic production of clean electricity and clean transportation fuel, as well as performance-based tax incentives for energy-efficient homes and office buildings. These credits are open to all resources, including fossil fuels that capture carbon or make efficiency improvements.
“This bill is built around the proposition that the law ought to reward innovative energy technologies with incentives that spark investment in the private economy,” says Wyden. “These investments will shrink electric bills for American families and create new clean energy jobs in Oregon and across the country.”
Wyden, the senior Democratic member on the Senate Finance Committee and member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, says the current system of energy incentives in the tax code is overly complex and far less effective than it should be. Today, there are 44 different energy tax incentives. Wyden argues more than half are too short term to effectively stimulate investments, while also providing different subsidies to different technologies with no clear policy direction. By contrast, the senator says his bill proposes a dramatically simpler set of long-term, performance-based energy tax incentives that are technology-neutral and promote clean energy production and storage in the U.S.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has applauded Wyden.
“By providing long-term, steady federal energy tax policy, this legislation would offer the stability that all businesses in the renewable energy space need to grow,” says SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “While SEIA’s highest legislative priority in tax reform remains maintaining the phase-down through 2021 of the residential and business solar investment tax credits enacted in the Omnibus Spending Act of 2015, we commend Senator Wyden for recognizing how crucial it is for America to maintain tax policies that are effective at creating jobs and producing clean, domestic energy.”
Hopper adds, “We see the Wyden bill as a major step forward and are heartened by this and similar efforts to devise a technology-neutral approach to long-term clean energy tax incentives also being explored by Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., in the House.”
Todd Foley, senior vice president of policy and government affairs at the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), says the energy tax reform proposal will encourage “private-sector investment in the nation’s energy infrastructure, including the electricity sector.”
“ACORE welcomes the opportunity to work with Senator Wyden and others in Congress in support of an electricity infrastructure investment approach that levels the long-term playing field on tax policy and drives much-needed investment for the modernization of America’s power generation system,” says Foley.
Co-sponsors of the Clean Energy for America Act include Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., along with Senate Finance Committee members Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Bob Menendez, D-N.J.; Tom Carper, D-Del.; Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; and Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Chris Coons, D-Del.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Angus King, I-Maine; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
A summary of the bill is available here.