According to a summary of the bill from Senator Cantwell's office [word doc] the purpose of the bill is three fold:
The bill would do the following:
Expands and Extends the Federal Production Tax Credit:
Expands and Extends the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds:
Expands and Extends Residential and Business Renewable Credits:
Extends Energy Efficiency Credits:
Promotes Smart Meter Technology:
This is a good package of expanded credits and incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency. I'm particularly happy to see my senator, Gordon Smith, co-sponsoring this bill.
The long-term extensions of these important credits will provide the long-term planning and financial certainty the renewable energy industry needs to make investments, both in renewable energy projects, but also in manufacturing facilities in the U.S. The boom-and-bust cycle of the PTC in the past has severely hampered the pace of renewable energy development in the US and has also discouraged significant investment in manufacturing capacity. Without long-term certainty that a strong North American market for wind and other renewable energy technologies exists, manufacturers are reluctant to make major long-term investments in factories in the U.S. This has led to a shortage of wind turbines and other crucial components and meant that many turbines used in US wind farms have to be imported from overseas, increasing costs (especially considering the weakening of the dollar versus the euro and other currencies).
I hope that this bill is incorporated into the package of energy legislation Congress plans to consider and pass in June and July. These incentives are crucial to the accelerated deployment of clean, homegrown, renewable energy technologies and increased energy efficiency. They will help level the playing field between highly subsidized fossil and nuclear energy industries and emerging renewable energy industries and the long-term certainty this bill provides will incentivize both quicken the pace of renewable energy development as well as increased US-based manufacturing of clean energy technologies - a win-win for the U.S. economy.