House Dems float 2-year extension of tax credits

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2015

House Democrats have introduced a bill to extend the expired renewable production tax credit for one year while expanding the qualification requirements for a separate key incentive for solar and other renewables.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) yesterday introduced H.R. 4040, the “Bridge to a Clean Energy Future Act of 2015,” which would extend the PTC and an assortment of other breaks for two years.

“With the impacts of climate change already upon us, now more than ever our focus should be on helping clean energy industries grow and thrive,” said Blumenauer, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, in a statement. “At the federal and state level — including in Oregon — we’ve already made notable investments in renewable energy resources, and this legislation will expand these efforts.”

Also included in the measure are extensions of credits for alternative fuel vehicles and properties, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, and efficiency improvements, according to a summary.

The expired credits track with those that were extended for two years under a broad extenders package approved by the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year (E&ENews PM, July 21).

However, the clean energy breaks were left out of an extenders bill approved by the House Ways and Means Committee in September, raising questions over how the lower chamber will respond to the annual tussle over extending the PTC (E&ENews PM, Sept. 17).

Blumenauer’s bill additionally would modify several existing tax provisions to boost their usefulness for clean energy sources.

Significantly, it would base the applicability of the investment tax credit (ITC) on the start of construction, rather than the current “placed-in-service” requirement, which means the credit starts when power is generated. The PTC has already been adjusted to a start-construction requirement.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), a member of the Finance Committee, is pushing for the change to be included in the upper chamber’s extender package. He floated the plan during the July extenders markup but withdrew it because the ITC doesn’t expire until the end of next year.

The House measure, which has 18 co-sponsors, is paid for by cancelling “outdated and wasteful tax breaks” for the oil and gas industry, according to Blumenauer’s statement. Republicans have long resisted the Obama administration’s calls to cancel the breaks.

The legislation comes as business interests are stepping up efforts to see the expired tax extenders reinstated before the end of the year, with an omnibus appropriations bill considered the likely vehicle.

Still, any extension of the PTC will face headwinds in the House, where critics of the incentive have focused their efforts to keep it lapsed.