Monday, April 07, 2008

AAEA Promoting Solar Power and Green Jobs

Solar power provides about one tenth of one percent of America's electricity. That's right: 1/10th of .01. (EIA) We will not go into the many constraints to installing photovoltaic panels on all of our structures; we will just say that photovoltaics should represent a larger percentage of our nation's electricity generation.

Solar power is an excellent technology for providing green jobs to inner city youth. This is the exciting aspect solar power brings to the table that is not readily available among the other technologies. There are opportunities in the solar sector from manufacturing to sales to training, installation and remote monitoring. Electricity is such an exciting and practical product that training to become an electrician can provide a lifelong skill. At-risk youth should be targeted for more special programs, such as those included in The Green Jobs Act of 2007.

Current renewable-energy tax credits will expire at the end of 2008 if not renewed. Renewal of tax incentives for building and alternative technologies were stripped from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 because they were going to be funded by removing tax credits for oil companies (AAEA did not support this provision). Subsidies do not have to be stripped from oil companies to fund renewal and expansion of energy tax incentives.
The Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act of 2008 (S.2821)extends the investment tax credit for eight more years for businesses. We should add at least $2 billion to this bill in the form of expensing for utilities providing solar power training and jobs via the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) provision in the bill. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John Ensign (R-NV). AAEA will recruit a sponsor for our amendment.

The expensing provision should be an amendment to the Section 104 Clean Renewable Energy Bonds provision. Under current law, public power and consumer-owned utilities that cannot benefit from tax credits can issue CREBs to help them reduce the cost of renewable energy investments. Under current law, there is a national CREB limitation of $1.2 billion in bonding authority and CREBs must be issued before December 31, 2008. This bill authorizes an additional $400 million of CREBs that may be issued and extends the authority to issue such bonds through December 31, 2009. The bill should be amended to authorize an additional $2 billion and the CREB limitation should be increased to $3.2 billion specifically targeted to expensing green job training and employment. In addition, the bill allocates 1/3 of the additional bonds for qualifying projects of State/local/tribal governments; 1/3 for qualifying projects of public power providers; and 1/3 for qualifying projects of electric cooperatives.

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