National Press Club

Groups call for action on expiring energy tax credits

November 30, 2016 | By Frank Maisano | frank.maisano@policyres.com

Advocates for renewable energy called on Congress to extend expiring tax credits in the year-end budget at a Nov. 29 National Press Club Newsmaker press conference.

Tax experts and energy industry leaders discussed the intricacies of a potential fix to the tax treatment, which they said has substantial implications for nascent and critically important renewable energy technologies, including fuel cells, geothermal heat pumps, small wind, Combined Heat and Power (CHP), microturbines and thermal energy.

The panel featured Curt Beaulieu, former Senate Finance Committee tax counsel for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who said Congress must act by year-end to preserve the tax incentives. He expressed confidence that Congress would act because it has been attempting to include them in legislation throughout the year.

Billie Kaumaya of the National Association of Home Builders (“NAHB”) said the tax issue is ultimately about consumer choice. Extending these tax provisions would help consumers to deal with the upfront costs of these investments while ensuring that the tax code does not “pick winners and losers,” he said.

Doug Dougherty, who represents the Geothermal Heat Pump industry, said that if the tax credits are not extended, the commercial market for renewable technologies is bound to collapse.

He added the current system sends a negative signal to Wall Street by solely subsidizing wind and solar at the expense of geothermal. The end result is a playing field that is no longer level and corresponding economic harm.

The tax credits are a top legislative issue for the rural electric cooperatives because it is important to rural consumers, Doughtery said. These same rural voters supported President-elect Donald Trump overwhelmingly and Trump often considered energy efficiency in the construction of his own buildings, he added.

Dougherty’s group and several other industry trade released a letter at the event that calls on Congress to support extending the credits for advanced energy technologies that were not included in 2015 budget deal that extended wind and solar tax credits.

The letter adds the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is critical to a range of advanced energy technologies that help expand and diversify the nation’s electricity supply and lower costs for consumers.

Groups signing the letter include Advanced Energy Economy, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, the Air Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute, the Alliance for Industrial Efficiency, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Gas Association, the Distributed Wind Energy Association, the Geothermal Exchange Organization, the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, Michigan’s Energy Innovation Business Council, the National Ground Water Association, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors, and Windustry.