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Senate fails to advance production tax credits for hydro

The Senate failed June 10 to muster sufficient votes to advance a House-passed bill that would extend expiring production tax credits for renewable energy, including hydropower, and authorize another $2 billion for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds.

The Senate voted 50-44, 10 votes short of the 60 needed votes to prevent a threatened filibuster against the bill. Senators objected to other provisions in the bill, including tax increases to offset the cost of the renewables incentives.

The House passed the bill May 21, 263-160, largely along party lines. (HNN 5/21/08)

The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008, H.R.6049, includes a three-year extension -- from Dec. 31, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2011 -- for "incremental" hydro: efficiency improvements or capacity additions to existing hydro projects, and the addition of hydropower generation to existing non-hydropower water resources facilities. It also includes irrigation hydropower of less that 5 MW.

The bill would add ocean, tidal, in-stream hydrokinetic, and conduit waterpower technologies to the list of renewables eligible for production tax credits.

The $2 billion authorization for clean energy bonds would be divided equally among groups ineligible for production tax credits: state, local, and tribal governments; public power utilities; and electric cooperatives.

The House bill also would modify the existing definition of incremental hydropower to make it more feasible for developers to add generating units to non-hydro dams. The National Hydropower Association collaborated with environmental groups, including American Rivers and Trout Unlimited, to propose the new language.

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