March 8, 2012 by staff
Renewable Energy, Renewable energy policy has seemingly been on the hot seat since late summer. As early as today, it will finally find out how much political backing it has with a series of votes on Capitol Hill.
The wind and solar industries have been pushing strongly to get extensions of popular federal programs onto existing legislation, and they will now be included in a massive highway spending bill.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has introduced an amendment that would grant a one-year extension of the Production Tax Credit aimed mainly at the wind industry and would for one year revive the recently expired Section 1603 Treasury Grant that had been a boon for the solar industry. It also includes incentives for cellulosic biofuel, biodiesel and renewable diesel.
The Senate bill would need 60 votes for approval, meaning it would require a significant number of Republicans to cross the aisle. Chuck Grassley, a well respected Republican senator from Iowa has been a leading proponent of the state’s wind industry, and other states with a strong and growing renewables presence, like Arizona and Texas, have Republican senators that could look favorably on this bill.
But getting to 60 votes would be a monumental challenge, especially as the renewables industry as a whole continues to face skepticism from key members of the Republican party. Currently, there are 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans and two Independents in the Senate. Timothy Arcuri, a researchanlyst with CitiGroup, wrote late Wednesday that his Capitol Hill sources say it is unlikely enough Republicans would sign onto the legislation as it stands.
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