Solar energy companies started to lobby for new tax credits for their domestic manufacturers. The effort is unfolding alongside the Obama administration’s push to spur “green” jobs by expanding this kind of manufacturing.
For instance, the Energy Department provided a $535 million loan guarantee to a solar panel maker this year, and is also helping finance expansion of a wind turbine plant.
The administration argues the U.S. appeared behind other countries in the ability to produce such materials.
Capitol Hill Democrats, meanwhile, are vowing new jobs legislation that backers might eye as a vehicle for the new tax credits for solar panel components.
“If Congress does, because of high unemployment, pass a jobs growth bill, the manufacturing tax credit is a perfect fit,” said John Stanton, a lobbyist for the Solar Energy Industries Association.
“The sole purpose of the bill is to create new jobs,” he said.
Lawmakers on the House and Senate tax-writing committees offered identical bills this month, that mould make eligible investments in equipment used to manufacture solar energy system components, which are avaliable through 2016.
The Senate plan is backed by three Finance Committee members: Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). The House version introduced Tuesday is sponsored by Ways and Means Committee members Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), ranking member Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas).
An aide to Stabenow said a number of vehicles are possible for the bill, including the planned jobs bill and broader energy legislation.
The new bills come in addition to a provision in the sweeping economic stimulus law that created a new credit this year for manufacturing various types of advanced energy equipment. The Treasury and Energy departments, which are jointly administering that program, began inviting applications several months ago. Some solar companies have applied, Stanton said.