FEDERAL: Senate Finance Approves Bill to Extend Tax Credits; House Begins Hearings

Posted by Tom Carlson on Apr 10, 2014 11:25:00 AM

advanced_energy_federal_updateLast week, the Senate Finance Committee took a critical step toward modernizing America’s energy infrastructure by approving a tax extenders package that supports continued investment in advanced energy technologies. The full Senate could take up the bill to restore and extend tax credits that expired at the end of 2013 in the coming weeks. On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) held the first of an expected series of hearings on expired tax provisions.


The package approved by the Senate committee extends vital tax credits through the end of 2015 for advanced energy technologies such as wind power, energy efficient buildings, smart grid, advanced fuels, and advanced transportation. Todd Keller, AEE’s vice president for federal policy says the committee’s package “goes a long way toward providing the certainty needed to drive the innovation and deployment of advanced energy technologies and services that make our nation’s energy more secure, clean and affordable.” See AEE’s full statement on the committee action here.


While the Finance-approved bill represents critical progress for advanced energy tax policy, the committee did not include a modification of the investment tax credit to allow projects that commence construction before its expiration date to qualify. This means all projects need to be completed before the expiration date, even though some solar and fuel cell projects can take years to develop and need tax certainty to obtain financing. This adjustment was made for the production tax credit last year and helped support continued investment in wind after the one-year extension of the PTC expired December 31.


During the bill mark-up last week, Finance Committee members Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced different approaches to extending the investment tax credit, but their proposals were ruled non-germane by Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR). Cantwell vowed to continue to push for an amendment on the Senate floor, as such a change would keep the pipeline of projects from drying up long before the ITC actually expires.


Additionally, the Senate Finance extenders bill left out expired tax credits for highly efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, and dryers. These tax credits helped significantly raise both the performance and market share of efficient appliances, and an extension with updated qualification levels could drive further appliance performance gains.


While the tax extenders package received bipartisan support in Senate Finance, prospects remain unclear in the House. According to Politico, Chairman Camp expects to hold hearings that could stretch into the summer and plans to discuss making some provisions permanent. Camp’s recently released tax reform proposal would zero out advanced energy credits.


During Tuesday’s hearing, Camp advocated for moving away form short-term fixes and toward long-term tax policy solutions. He noted that permanent tax provisions could provide consistency and stability to businesses. He called for an overhaul of the tax code to make it simpler, fairer, and more conducive to economic growth.


Ways and Means Ranking Member Sandy Levin (D-MI) argued that Camp was essentially proposing to pick winners and losers among American industries by advocating for some provisions to be made permanent and allowing others to remain expired.


The hearing focused on a limited number of provisions, including tax credits for research and development and international finance operations. Camp announced in late March that he would not seek reelection this year and vowed to focus on “fixing our broken tax code” in the remainder of his term.


The following advanced energy tax provisions were included in the extenders package approved by the Senate Finance Committee: 


  • Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC; Section 45) with option to claim the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC; 48) instead
  • Bonus Depreciation (168)


  • Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Deduction (179D)
  • Residential Energy Efficiency Credit (25C)
  • Energy-Efficient New Homes Credit (45L)


  • Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit (30C)
  • Alternative Fuel and Fuel Mixtures Credit (6426)
  • Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Credit (40A)
  • Second Generation (Cellulosic) Biofuel Producer Credit (40)
  • Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Credit (168)

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Topics: Federal Policy