The Senate on Thursday passed an energy bill that requires greater fuel economy for cars and more renewable fuels. But $21.5 billion in renewable incentives and a national renewable-energy standard got cut out.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday evening passed an energy bill that requires greater fuel economy for vehicles and more renewable fuels.
The bill, which will become law if it is signed by President Bush, calls for a corporate average fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon and the use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels, both by 2020.
The Union of Concerned Scientists called the bill, which passed 86-8, a "landmark" that strengthens fuel-economy standards for the first time in 30 years.
Chris O'Brien, vice president for government relations for Sharp Solar and chair of the Solar Energy Industries Association, called the bill "a significant missed opportunity."
"We're frankly surprised that the signal of support from folks was ignored," he said. "Over 100,000 letters were sent to the Congress to voice support for solar tax credits, but none of the senators we saw as potential swing votes voted in favor of cloture."
While the bill will increase automobile energy efficiency and biofuel production, it does nothing to provide a significant shift in the electricity sector, he said.
"That's a big gap in terms of addressing broader climate change, energy security and economic development," he said. "It was very disappointing."
O'Brien said the failure to pass the tax credits will result in much greater uncertainty about the market after 2008, when the current tax credits are set to expire, and a dramatic slowdown of project-development activity next year.
Because the availability of the tax credit in 2009 is uncertain and because large solar projects take 12 to 14 months to develop, the solar industry is likely to see an immediate stop to the development of projects that wouldn't be completed until 2009, he said....MORE