'Fiscal cliff' deal bodes well for green energy

The "fiscal cliff" deal turns out to contain some good news for green energy, Voelcker writes, long a priority of president Barack Obama.

Charlie Neibergall/AP/File
President Barack Obama speaks at the TPI Composites Factory, which manufactures wind turbine blades, Thursday in Newton, Iowa, in this May 2012 file photo. A one-year extension of the tax credit for wind energy is part of the fiscal cliff deal.

It wasn't until 2 am yesterday morning that the U.S. Senate voted 89 to 8 to approve a bill to avert the "fiscal cliff" that took effect on New Year's Day.

The House of Representatives then took an entire day of political wrangling before voting 257-167 to approve the Senate bill late yesterday.

But the final measure turns out to contain some good news for green energy, long a priority of president Barack Obama.

As Reuters reports, the 157-page bill contains an "eclectic mix" of "sweetener" provisions, among them roughly a dozen relating to green energy.

Many of the legislators who voted on the bill may not have been aware of all of its provisions, since votes were taken just minutes after the final bill was distributed. 

Those include:

  • A tax credit for the purchase of a two- or three-wheeled electric vehicle of 10 percent of the purchase price up to a maximum of $2,500
  • Restoration of 30-percent Federal tax credit for installation of an electric-car charging station for both 2012 and 2013, capped at $30,000
  • Reinstatement of tax credits for fuel blenders who use biodiesel and renewable diesel from biomass, of $1 a gallon, for both 2012 and 2013
  • Extension of the cellulosic biofuel tax credit for blenders of $1.01 a gallon, through 2013, with the addition of algae as a qualified feedstock
  • A one-year extension of the tax credit for wind energy of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years a new wind farm is operating
  • Tax incentives for purchase of energy-efficient appliances

Many of the provisions are simply extensions of existing programs that were destined to sunset at the end of last year.

That means the bill's language may be no more than effectively changing the date of a program's termination from December 31, 2012, to a future date.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]

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