Groups See Dim Renewable Energy Future
by Associated Press
CNN Money, January 22, 2008
WASHINGTON - Thousands of renewable energy jobs could be lost unless a tax credit set to expire at the end of this year is extended, industry trade groups said Tuesday.
Tax breaks for various clean energy industries, including wind and solar, along with language requiring investor-owned utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources were left out of the energy bill President Bush signed last month.
About $20 billion in investments yielded nearly 6,000 megawatts of new renewable energy in 2007 along with tens of thousands of jobs nationwide that are now in jeopardy, according to the National Hydropower Association, Geothermal Energy Association, Solar Energy Industries Association and American Wind Energy Association.
The groups urged Congress and President Bush to include renewable energy tax provisions in any economic stimulus bill being developed.
On that front, the Federal Reserve on Tuesday cut a key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said quick agreement is needed on a tax cut package.
Congressional leaders are set to meet with Bush about economic stimulus legislation. The president has advocated a growth package of about $145 billion, centered on tax cuts for business and rebates for individual taxpayers, but no details have been announced.
Large solar and wind projects take more than a year to plan, approve and construct, while geothermal and hydro projects take even longer 'and will not get built without a long-term extension of the tax credits,' according to the trade groups.
'If the renewable energy tax credits are allowed to expire, we will lose hundreds of thousands of jobs here in the U.S.,' they said. 'With the nation facing a possible recession, it is difficult to imagine a worse time to destabilize America's rapidly growing renewable energy sector.'
The American Wind Energy Association last week said domestic wind farms will generate just over 1 percent of U.S. electricity supply this year, or enough to power the equivalent of more than 4.5 million homes. But the group also cautioned that the amount of new U.S. wind capacity installations tanked in 2004, the last time a production tax credit expired.
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