Thu, Dec 13th 2007 8:01pm
The clean-tech sector -- along with every other sector, company, and person who uses energy -- suffered something of a setback today at the hands of the United States Senate. By a vote of 40-59, federal tax incentives for clean-tech investments will be left to dry up at the end of next year. Using the 2007-2008 Senate math that most of us missed in 8th grade civics class, it now takes 60 votes to get anything done, including an extension of current renewable energy investment tax credits set to expire. These tax credits have played a big role in the surge of investment into wind, solar, and other clean energy technology. The votes of 40 Senators certainly don't reflect the feelings of their constituents (Americans are almost unanimous in their support for developing new sources of renewable energy) but the issue is more complicated than 39 Republican and one Democratic congresspeople who are sour on solar. The clean-tech incentives ran into a roadblock when supporters insisted on -- you'd better sit down for this -- paying for them. Specifically, the tax incentives would be paid for through the year 2016 by repealing billions of dollars of long-standing subsidies to fossil fuel companies. The escalating costs of energy are being felt by Americans who are paying significantly more to fuel their car, heat their home, and keep their lights on. Higher energy costs will eventually work their way into just about every product that we purchase and every service that we have come to enjoy. A near-decade-long extension of the federal incentives would have significantly leveled the playing field versus legacy energy systems and paved the way for continued acceleration of investment into clean-tech. The sector has seen false starts before as incentives have come and gone. Today's inaction dampens hopes that energy consumers will have alternatives any time soon, and leaves individuals, companies, and entire industries at the ongoing mercy of an aging and unstable fossil fuel infrastructure.
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