Mar 10, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
The House of Representatives recently again passed "the parts that were left out of the energy bill" -- including provisions that could provide a $4-$6,000 tax credit for plug-in hybrids. (That would go far in addressing the "first cost" issue of PHEVs. Much of the attention in trying to get the bill passed by the Senate and signed by the President involves the funding of the measure -- removing tax credits given to oil companies at a time when their profits were a fraction of what they are today. Here's a joint statement by advocates, followed by an editorial in The New York Times.
Google.org Calls on U.S. Congress to Support Renewable Energy Wednesday 3/05/2008 10:02:00 AM
Posted by Michael Terrell, Program Manager, Google.org
Yesterday Google.org, along with representatives from the business and venture capital community, called on the U.S. Congress and the Bush Administration to work together to quickly approve extensions of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The PTC and the ITC are tax incentives designed to spur the market for renewable energy and are critical to financing a new renewable energy generation. The credits are currently scheduled to expire on December 31, 2008.
Speaking at a news conference at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, Dan Reicher, Google.org's Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, said: "We are at the dawn of a green energy revolution that could fundamentally reshape the way the world generates energy. It is critical that we get the policy right in order to drive investment in clean energy and push these technologies out of the lab and into the mainstream. Policy makers can make or break this revolution."
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), TechNet and the National Venture Capital Association sponsored the press conference which also included representatives of GE Energy Financial Services, Credit Suisse, and the venture capital firm Nth Power.
In a recent ACORE letter to Congress, over 350 industry leaders warned that a failure by Congress to immediately pass ITC/PTC extensions could jeopardize U.S. job creation and over 42,000 MW of planned renewable energy projects currently in development in 45 states. (That's an amount equivalent to 75 base load electricity generation stations and enough to power 16 million homes.)
Here's a link to a February New York Times editorial on the subject, "Clean Power or Dirty Coal," http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/opinion/10sun2.html and a more recent and more succinct editorial:
Editorial: The Senate Shills for Big Oil Published: March 3, 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/03/opinion/03mon4.html
The House had approved the credits but insisted -- under the Democrats' pay-as-you-go rules -- that they be paid for by eliminating the same amount in tax credits for oil and gas producers. Industry (which is rolling in cash these days) howled, President Bush lofted veto threats, and the Senate caved.
The damage was immediately apparent. New investment in clean, non-fossil-fuel energy sources -- which need the help until they become competitive with older, dirtier energy sources -- began to shrivel.
The Senate now has a chance to redeem itself. Last week, the House approved a new $17 billion package of credits, spread over 10 years, to encourage the development of renewable energy sources and to promote energy-efficient buildings and appliances.
As before, the House insisted that the credits be paid for by terminating an equivalent $17 billion in tax breaks over 10 years for oil and gas companies. And right on schedule, Senate Republicans began complaining that increasing industry's taxes would discourage investment in domestic oil and gas production.
What will it take to wake the Senate up? It should be clear to even the most obtuse members that a country that consumes one-fifth of the world's oil but has only 3 percent of its reserves cannot possibly drill its way to energy independence.
It should be equally clear that an industry whose five biggest producers generated $145 billion in profits last year can easily sacrifice $1.7 billion in annual tax breaks it does not need to help develop the cleaner fuels the country does need.
If those arguments aren't enough, we offer the Senate some words from President Bush. In a 2005 address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Mr. Bush spoke forcefully of the need for an energy strategy that looked to the long term and emphasized conservation and renewable fuels.
Of the oil and gas industry, he said pointedly: "I will tell you with $55 oil we don't need incentives to the oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives. What we need is to put a strategy in place that will help this country over time become less dependent."
The question for Mr. Bush and the Senate is clear: If that was true at $55 a barrel, why isn't it even more valid and urgent at $100 a barrel?