House Ways and Means Tax Package Would Help Maintain the Nation’s Clean Energy Momentum

Legislation Would Boost Economic Growth and Cut Carbon Emissions

Published Nov 19, 2019

WASHINGTON (November 19, 2019)—Legislation proposed today by the House Ways and Means Committee majority providing tax incentives for clean energy technologies would accelerate U.S. clean energy momentum, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal recognizes that the tax code works best when it reflects our needs and our values,” said UCS President Ken Kimmell. “Tax credits that support clean energy will reduce carbon emissions and create jobs, strengthen local economies, and improve public health at the same time.

“Congress needs to pass as many of these tax incentives as possible before the end of the year to keep clean energy momentum going at a time when the federal government is going backward on addressing the greatest challenge we face: runaway climate change.”

The bill would expand tax credit eligibility for energy storage, extend the investment tax credit for solar and offshore wind, extend the production tax credit for onshore wind, and raise the cap on the number of electric vehicles eligible for a tax credit to encourage more sales.

Establishing a stand-alone energy storage investment tax credit would enable utilities to use more wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, Kimmell pointed out. More energy storage also would mean more reliable clean energy during and after extreme weather events and other emergencies.

The package also would extend tax credits for offshore wind. “Extending the 30-percent investment tax credit for offshore wind would give a much-needed boost to this promising new industry, generate jobs, and provide more clean energy tools to fight climate change,” Kimmell said. According to the Department of Energy, developers could install 22,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and 86,000 megawatts by 2050.

Currently new car buyers can take advantage of a federal income tax credit of as much as $7,500 for the first 200,000 electric vehicles each automaker sells, which has helped make electric vehicles cost-competitive with their gas-powered counterparts. Neal’s legislation would increase the cap for all companies to 600,000 vehicles.

“Increasing the cap would make an already successful policy even better by putting more electric vehicles on the road,” Kimmell said. “The benefit of doing so is obvious: Electric vehicles dramatically reduce carbon emissions. The average electric vehicle generates 3.3 tons fewer carbon dioxide emissions than a comparable gas vehicle.

The tax package garnered support from House colleagues even before it was officially announced. In October, 166 representatives signed a “dear colleague” letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserting that the bill “would go a long way in providing planning certainty in clean energy investments … and helping us strive toward and ultimately beyond our Paris agreements.”

Kimmell agrees. “Despite the fact that the Trump administration formally notified the United Nations it will withdraw from the Paris agreement,” he said, “enacting this bill would encourage investment in renewable energy and go a long way to reaffirm U.S. global leadership in combating climate change.”

For more information about the Ways and Means Committee tax package, see UCS Senior Energy Analyst Sam Gomberg’s blog post.