US Tax Credits Finally Extended for ‘Orphaned’ Clean Energy Tech

With the news Friday morning that Congress passed a spending bill to keep the U.S. government open through mid-March, representatives of what have been dubbed “orphaned” clean energy technologies breathed easier knowing they finally won tax credit extensions as part of the bill.

Extensions were included in the spending bill for a variety of technologies, including small wind, geothermal heat pumps (GHP), fuel cells and biomass-based diesel.

Those technologies were left out of the bill passed in 2015 that secured tax credit extensions for solar and utility-scale wind. Some members of Congress have said that the omission was in error, but industry representatives have struggled over the past two years to find a pathway to reinstate the tax credits for the orphaned technologies that were left to expire.

Representatives of the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) said the association worked with other industry groups to fix what it calls an inequity created two years ago, when Congress appeared to pick winners and losers in renewable energy through tax policy.

“Our hard-fought victory for the GHP industry helps ensure a bright future for our technology,” GEO President and CEO Doug Dougherty said in a statement. “It will stem the loss of jobs we now face, provide more time to overcome market barriers, achieve economies of scale, and help spread the environmental and economic benefits of GHPs across America.”

GEO said that the reinstated GHP tax credits are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017, and extended to Jan. 1, 2022. The language also changes an important consideration for commercial GHP projects, making them eligible if commenced by Jan. 1, 2022, rather than placed in service.

The Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA) said passage of the bill today is “important for the distributed wind industry,” noting that the legislation reinstates small wind—100-kW and below—projects installed in 2017, as well as extends both the small wind business and residential investment tax credit through 2022.

DWEA added that, since the end of 2015, the distributed wind industry has suffered many rounds of layoffs while waiting for the tax policy fix.

“We are elated and ready to get back to work on the immense potential of the U.S. distributed wind market,” Russell Tencer, DWEA Board President, said in a statement.

Randy Howard, president and CEO of biomass-based diesel provider Renewable Energy Group, said the company was pleased that Congress acknowledged biodiesel’s value with the passage of a retroactive extension of the biodiesel mixture excise tax credit for 2017. Howard, however, expressed disappointment that Congress did not continue the credit into the future.

“We are pleased our supporters in Congress continue to recognize the value the biodiesel tax credit brings, like lower RIN costs, continued economic development, jobs, support of our nation’s farmers and a cleaner environment,” Howard said. “We will continue to work alongside our elected officials and the administration on a long-term extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive.”


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