power lines, wind turbines and solar panels

A letter of support from over 100 members of Congress calls for extension of renewables tax credits continues to build support in the House. The Republican-controlled Senate is a different matter.

Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, noted that a letter of support for “critical clean energy tax credits” continues to gain momentum in the House of Representatives. The letter calls for extending tax credits to both solar and wind energy, as well as creating incentives to additional clean energy technologies, including energy storage, energy efficiency and offshore wind.

In July, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House introduced legislation that would extend the solar Investment Tax Credit for five years at its full 30 percent value.

Tonko said is he is confident the legislation will move. “We’ve had several communications with the chair of the Ways and Means Committee; we’ve talked to members [and] we’ve talked to staff. They are very open to the push that we are making,” he said. “I think the odds are good,” he Tonko added. “They really want to do a green tax policy package.”

When asked how he sees tax legislation making it past Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Tonko said that he sees public opinion forcing Republicans to act.

Other Important Energy Initiatives Moving Forward in the Senate

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently reported 21 energy and water bills out of committee on a largely bipartisan basis, including the Grid Modernization Act of 2019, the Energy Cybersecurity Act of 2019, the Smart Building Acceleration Act of 2019, and the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act, which would require the Department of Energy to deploy up to five large-scale energy storage demonstration projects and develop a 10-year strategic plan and cost targets for grid-scale energy storage systems.

Tonko also added that he’s also working on a new set of bills to streamline the permitting process for distributed energy resources (DER) such as rooftop solar, deploying more publicly accessible EV charging infrastructure, and improving the regional planning process for transmission lines needed to support vast amounts of remotely located renewable energy. More details are expected in the months ahead.

Meanwhile…Solar Tariff Policy Changes Draw Industry Criticsm

The Trump administration on Friday eliminated a solar tariff exclusion that it had previously announced in June.

Bifacial panels absorb light more efficiently by being double sided, but the technology is in its early stages and is developed by foreign manufacturers. The technology will be subject to a 25% tariff starting Oct. 28, according to the notice from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

The Solar Energy Industries Association issued a statement on Oct. 8 from SEIA’s President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper regarding the USTR’s decision to impose tariffs on bifacial solar panels:

“We’re obviously disappointed by USTR’s decision to revoke the bifacial panel exemption. USTR granted the exemption only four months ago, and only after a year-long process that included notice and comment and inter-agency review. In an extraordinary and unprecedented turn of events, the exemption was quickly rescinded without any opportunity for public notice and comment. This is unnecessarily squeezing the supply of panels in the United States, thereby inflating prices for consumers. In its rush to judgement, USTR missed an opportunity to address the significant shortage of domestic solar panels and its decision will slow the growth of an American economic engine. We look forward to making our case during the pending midterm review.”

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