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SEMI, SEIA comment on US Senate’s failure to pass solar investment tax credit extension

30 July 2008 | By Tom Cheyney | Chip Shots

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A cloture motion on an eight-year extension of the 30% solar energy investment tax credit failed yet again on the US Senate floor today (July 30), by a largely party-line vote of 51-43, the legislation still needing an additional nine votes to get to the senior chamber's floor for debate. I wrote a blog-column here about the ITC extension question a few weeks ago and remain firmly in favor of its passage.

In reply to an email sent earlier today, Maggie Hershey, SEMI's head lobbyist on Capitol Hill, remarked: "There's not that much to say about it since few expected that it would pass today. We are disappointed that it looks like Congress won't approve the extension before the August recess and urge them to pass it as soon as they return."

Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, also issued a statement after the vote failed.

"For the eighth time since June 2007, the Senate was unable to reach a bipartisan compromise to extend solar tax credits which are vital to the solar industry and our economy. Time is running out to extend the solar tax credits and without passage in the immediate future, tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars will be lost in new solar investment.

"Already companies are putting projects on hold and preparing to send thousands of jobs overseas--real jobs that would otherwise be filled by American workers. Failure to extend the solar tax credits is a severe blow to an industry that has proven to be an economic engine for the U.S. at a time when we need it most.

"The Senate now has little time left this year to extend these tax credits. I strongly urge the Senate to figure out a bipartisan compromise and immediately extend the solar tax credit when they return from their August recess."

Abengoa's massive Solana solar thermal project in Arizona is one of several planned installations that may get shelved if the ITC doesn't pass, according to an article in politico.com. "If built today, this will be the single largest solar power plant in the world," said Fred Morse, US senior adviser to Abengoa. "Without a year extension of the [tax credit], the Solana project can't be built because the financing won't be made viable because the numbers won't work."

"The fate of Solana is in the hands of the investment tax credit," said Steven Gotfried, a spokesman for Arizona Public Service, said in the same piece. "With that investment tax credit, a future with renewable energy becomes a reality. And without it, it puts it in jeopardy."

For more coverage on Wednesday's ITC vote in the Senate, check these links to stories filed by Reuters and Associated Press.

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