Renewable energy industry banking on more grants
One-year extension of funds granted to domestic producers of wind, solar and other sources of renewable energy.
Thu, Dec 09, 2010 at 10:08 PM
Officials in the wind industry say that a hard-fought extension of a cash grant program for renewable energy will be a lifeline for domestic producers, saving tens of thousands of jobs.
"Factories across the country will restart production lines, recall workers and avoid layoffs that would have followed the loss of this key incentive for wind energy, which with consistent policies like this one can generate 20 percent of America's electricity within 20 years," Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement on the night of Dec. 9.
The one-year extension, included in a tax-package agreement reached by the White House and key lawmakers, came the same day that a large bloc of House and Senate Democrats rallied behind the renewable energy program.
Seventeen senators and 81 House members, in separate letters, had urged their leaders to renew the cash grants, calling them essential to wind, solar and other renewable energy industries in the U.S.
The original tax-cut package negotiated by President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans did not extend the program, which would have meant the program's expiration at the end of the month without changes by Congress. The federal stimulus law created the program, and some senators called it a potential make-or-break issue in the tax package debate.
"We will have difficulty supporting tax legislation currently being drafted for Senate consideration that fails to include an extension," the senators wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who chairs the Finance Committee. "If Congress allows taxes to rise on renewable development, momentum would be lost and the growth of renewable energy would be jeopardized."
The letter was led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
The House bloc led by Reps. Mike Thompson of California and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon urged a two-year extension, pitching their effort at a Capitol Hill news conference.
"This is about jobs," Thompson said.
Bode, the wind industry CEO, said at the news conference that 20,000 people would be laid off in her industry in the next three months if the program ended.
"This is survival," she said. "We've never had as much at risk."
Copyright 2010 AP News