WASHINGTON - A coalition of more than 100 business, trade, and advocacy groups have called on the U.S. Senate to pass bipartisan legislation that extends renewable energy and efficiency tax credits that have already expired or will expire at the end of this year. According to the coalition, 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.

“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 DuPont, Mitsubishi Electric, Owens Corning, and Trane; eight retailers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart; 23 trade associations, including the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA), North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); 25 advocacy groups, including Environment America, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists; and 10 utilities, including Constellation Energy, Exelon, and Florida Power & Light.

Historically, says the coalition, 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 says, 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 constructing energy-efficient buildings, investing in solar electric systems, installing efficient home heating and cooling equipment, manufacturing efficient home appliances, and retrofitting existing homes to save energy.

“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 R.K. Stewart, 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.”

Jeffrey D. DeBoer, president and CEO of the Real Estate Roundtable, a policy organization that represents the commercial real estate industry, agreed. “By extending energy tax incentives, Congress will be encouraging the rapid rollout of a new generation of high-performance, energy-efficient green buildings,” he said. “With energy prices soaring, passing these incentives is just common sense and key for any credible energy policy.”

Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), also pointed out that an ACEEE analysis found that extending the energy efficiency provisions would add roughly 15,000 jobs to the U.S. economy, considering both added jobs in the energy efficiency and service industries and lost jobs in the traditional energy industries.

Publication date:03/10/2008