On March 4, a coalition of more than 100 business, trade and advocacy groups called on the U.S. Senate to pass bipartisan legislation as soon as possible that extends renewable energy and efficiency tax credits that have already expired or will expire at the end of this year.
The tax incentives would strengthen the renewable energy industry and expand the market for energy-efficient products, which ultimately would reduce residential and commercial energy costs, generate new domestic jobs, and boost a flagging economy, according to the coalition.
"Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are a proven economic engine for our country. They've created tens of thousands of green collar jobs and billions of dollars in investment," said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. "Congress and the administration should seize this opportunity to support this high-growth sector."
The business-consumer coalition includes:
47 manufacturers, including Dow Chemical, DuPont, Owens Corning and Whirlpool; eight retailers, including Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart,
23 trade associations, including ASHRAE, the American Institute of Architects, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, the National Association of Homebuilders and the National Small Business Association,
25 advocacy groups, including Environment America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists, and
10 utilities, including Constellation Energy, Exelon and Florida Power & Light.
Historically, Congress has extended clean energy tax incentives in only two-year increments, creating a boom-bust cycle that impedes industry development. The ideal Senate tax incentive package, the coalition said, would extend incentives for wind, solar and biomass for a number of years to provide the stability financial investors need to back new projects.
In addition to extending tax credits for renewable energy sources, the coalition urges the Senate to extend tax incentives for a number of related activities including:
Installing efficient home heating and cooling equipment.
Retrofitting existing homes to save energy.
Constructing energy-efficient buildings.
Investing in solar electric systems.
Manufacturing efficient home appliances.
"Our nation's buildings account for 70 percent of our nation's electricity use, and that's why these incentives are vitally important to deploy energy-efficient designs, technologies and equipment," said RK Stewart, FAIA, former president of the American Institute of Architects. "The end result is that we would get the most energy-conserving buildings possible, which means reduced utility bills for businesses and homeowners, and lower overall energy demand across the nation."