At the end of next year government policies that have successfully aided the growth of residential and commercial solar and industrial wind are set expire. Congress can help do something about this, but powerful special interests could stand in the way.
The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar systems on residential and commercial properties. It was created in 2006 and was extended in a bipartisan vote in 2008 through the end of 2016. Without further action by Congress the program will come to an end. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind was created in 1992. It has been renewed several times since then but is also set to expire at the end of 2016.
The dirty energy industry would like to have people believe that the renewable energy industry is flailing, but the opposite is true. Coupled with important state level policies like Renewable Portfolio Standards, the ITC and the PTC have helped drive the growth of solar and wind in the United States. Since the ITC became law in 2006, solar’s contribution to electricity production has grown about 1600 percent. With the help of the PTC wind has grown to become the largest clean, renewable source of electricity in the United States. That growth in both solar and wind has also employed hundreds of thousands of Americans. At the same time, the cost of renewable electricity has dropped dramatically. Despite the positive growth, solar and wind are still relatively small sources of electricity production that need government policy in order to grow.
Given that success, why would Congress even consider letting the ITC and PTC expire? The simple answer is the Koch Brothers.
Following the Republican victory in the 2014 mid-term elections, the Koch-backed (and ironically named) Americans for Prosperity targeted the wind Production Tax Credit. Earlier this year another Koch-backed group, the Taxpayer’s Protection Alliance, released a report attacking federal support for the solar industry, especially the ITC. Pretty ironic, considering the oil and gas industry receives about $4 billion each year in direct taxpayer-funded subsidies.
The Kochs and their friends in the oil and gas industry have a lot to fear from government policies that drive us toward the necessary transition to clean renewable energy. Having staked their fortunes on continuing to drill and frack for oil and gas, they stand to lose billions of dollars. And they are willing to spend millions to protect their fossil fuel empire.
We can’t let them win.
Congress is no beginning to debate tax legislation that could decide the fate of the ITC and the PTC. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to begin taking up tax legislation any day now and senators have begun introducing legislation to extend these needed programs.
At Food & Water Watch, we fight for everyone’s right to healthy food and clean water. Continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels threatens our ability to have sustainable food systems and threatens the quality of our water and the only way we can protect it is by utilizing 100% clean energy and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
Contact your senator today and tell them to support an extension of the Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit so that we can continue the transition to a 100% clean energy future.