While the U.S. House has happily passed the renewable energy credits that have, for the last few years, kept the U.S. competitive with other countries in this burgeoning new economy, the Senate has failed to pass the legislation three times.
The largest planned solar power project in history, a 280-megawatt solar thermal plant in Arizona, will not be built if the tax credits are not extended. But that's not where the story ends. Over 42,000 MW -- that's as much as 75 coal-fired power plants -- are hinging on this bill. Those projects, representing the largest yearly growth in U.S. solar EVER, will go online in 42 states only if the subsidies stay in place.
The renewable energy credits will expire at the end of 2008 and already planned projects are putting in a provision saying that they will cancel if the credits are not passed. The problem seems to be that every version of the renewable energy credit bill that has hit the Senate takes subsidies away from oil and gas companies and gives them to the renewables energy. Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico, the head Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has said that he will block any such legislation, calling the repeal of their subsidies a "tax" on oil and gas.
Many Senators claim that ending oil and gas subsidies will only serve to increase gas prices but, call me crazy, giving taxpayers' money to the oil companies so they can lower prices doesn't really make that much sense. We could just give the money straight to the taxpayers instead of helping to increase the already-record profits of the oil industry.
Subsidies exist to help bolster new economies when they need the capital, not to prop up dying systems. If our country can put together the funding to create 42 gigawatts of renewable energy, that will be something that we can all be proud of. That, in fact, will stop the demand for new coal power plants while putting us in a position to compete with the rest of the world in this new energy economy.
Senate Democrats are scrambling to put together a stand-alone version of the bill. The last two have failed by just one vote (notably, John McCain did not vote on either bill) and Democrats are confident that they can pull that extra vote from somewhere before their effectual deadline at the end of the first quarter of '08. Let's hope they get this done...NOW.
written by Magnulus, March 06, 2008
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