Gregory Wetstone is President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Council for Renewable Energy (ACORE). ACORE is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing renewable energy through finance, policy, and market development. With member companies from across the spectrum of renewable energy technologies and close ties to the renewable energy finance sector, ACORE is the preeminent voice for the nation’s renewable energy industry.
Greg has written and spoken widely on energy and environmental issues. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Atlanta Constitution, the Miami Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union Tribune and other newspapers and magazines across the nation. Greg’s has appeared on the ABC Nightly News, the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, NBC World News Tonight, CNN, and National Public Radio. He has a J.D. from the Duke University School of Law and a B.S. in biology from Florida State University.
With the Senate version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) passing on December 2, we’re now in the midst of House-Senate Conference for resolution of the differences between the two bills. The differences are quite significant, which suggests an intensive and difficult negotiation over the next number of days as they seek to agree on a final bill that must be approved by both chambers before heading to the President’s desk.
As we’ve stated before, both the Senate and House versions of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contain provisions that would undermine the investment tools that have been critical to the growth of America’s burgeoning renewable energy economy.
Today we’re publishing a brief paper outlining the provisions of concern to renewable energy in the House and Senate Bills, and suggesting repairs that can keep the sector growing. The key provisions include a direct assault on renewable tax credits in the House bill, and the Alternative Minimum Tax and Base Erosion Anti-abuse Tax (BEAT) provisions in the Senate Bill. To download this overview, click here.
The Wall Street Journal published a misguided editorial over the weekend that supported the House tax bill’s damaging provisions to retroactively revise wind incentives. I wanted to share ACORE’s response in my letter to the editor, which was published in print on Nov. 15 as the lead response to their editorial (full text below).
As reported recently by The Hill, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt thinks the solar investment tax credit and wind production tax credit should be eliminated.
Speaking at an event in Kentucky, Pruitt said “I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar…I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources, and let utilities make real-time market decisions on those types of things as opposed to being propped up by tax incentives and other types of credits that occur, both in the federal level and state level."
In a follow-up response letter published in the Oct. 17 print edition of the The Hill, I offered the following response on behalf of the renewables industry:
This year’s annual National Renewable Energy Policy Forum, hosted by ACORE, took place on the heels of an important policy update for key technologies. In December 2015, Congress approved a combined tax and budget package giving wind and solar what amounts to between five and seven years of policy “certainty” for investors and developers. But tax policy is only one part of the equation. We got another important boost that same month from the successful international climate meetings in Paris where 129 nations came together and, in essence, agreed to move to a low-carbon economy. But just a few weeks later, the Supreme Court issued a surprising stay of EPA’s carbon-cutting regulatory initiative, the Clean Power Plan, which threw sand in the gears of an implementation effort that was just gaining momentum. The stay is likely to delay implementation efforts by more than a year, even as states respond in dramatically different ways. In the meantime, it will be up to the renewable sector and its allies to maintain the public and private sector momentum behind the shift to renewable generation.
Below is our quick overview of the key discussions and leading news stories emerging from this year’s Policy Forum. Three major stories reported on from this year’s Policy Forum: