Yesterday the Renewable Energy and Jobs Creation Act of 2008 (H.R. 6049) was overwhelmingly passed through the Senate. (The bill now proceeds to a conference committee of senators and representatives to work out differences in the versions of the bill each chamber approved. The Bill then must be signed by the President, which may be questionable). This Bill contains a very sought after tax credit for different technologies that have been designated as "renewable" sources of energy. From quickly reviewing the Bill, my understanding at this point is the following:
-The Renewable Production Tax Credit has been extended for municipal solid waste incinerators, biomass incinerators, and landfills until 2012.
-The definition of "Trash Facility" has been extended to include any facility that uses municipal solid waste. This means that gasification, pyrolysis, plasma and other incineration technologies that did not previously qualify for the tax credit, should now qualify. It also means that anaerobic digestion should also qualify (although it is not totally clear that anaerobic digestion wouldn't have qualified before).
- The Credit for Refined Coal and "Indian Coal" has fortunately not been extended.
- The Credit for Wind has been extended until 2010.
- The Credit has also been extended for geothermal energy, solar energy, and small irrigation power until 2012.
What this means: The fact that this tax credit has been extended to incinerators for three years may give investors more confidence that they can count on this subsidy moving forward. This may make it easier for incinerator companies to pitch their dirty technologies to municipalities and investors. The bottom line is that incinerators are still FAR FROM a cost effective option. This is especially true with gasification, plasma and pyrolysis incinerators which have even greater costs. We should seize upon the fact that anaerobic digesters should be an even more cost effective option at this point.
It is beyond ridiculous that incinerators will gain public financing for three years, while the tax credit for wind energy has only been extended for one year. This brings home the fact that we need stronger advocates in Washington that stand up for these important issues.
I will send an update tomorrow if I find that I have been incorrect with any of the details of the Bill.
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