• Tony Zelinski

It's time to hit the off switch for solar, wind power tax breaks


Ronald Reagan told us more than 50 years ago, “a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!” Were he making that observation today, he might also include renewable energy tax breaks.


The solar Investment Tax Credit is scheduled to wind down, which means special interests are pushing for an extension — part of an end-of-the-year grab bag of tax breaks known as a “tax extenders” bill.


A Republican Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a wide-ranging effort to increase U.S. energy independence and security at a time of declining oil and natural gas production. Two key components of the law were the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy.


Both were reauthorized in 2015, again by a Republican Congress, as part of a deal to allow the United States to begin exporting crude oil. But as Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, then chairman to the House Ways and Means Committee, points out, it was supposed to be a one-time extension, which is why he doesn’t support the effort today.


The ITC provides a 30 percent tax credit for both residential and commercial solar projects that began before 2020. The credit decreases to 10 percent beginning in 2022 and only applies to commercial projects.


Now solar energy lobbyists are seeking an extension to the extension — or as Reagan might say, “eternal life.”


But the world of energy has changed significantly since 2005.


To begin with, the United States is no longer under the thumb of other oil and natural gas producing countries...




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