Clean Energy Financing is Vital for Our Energy Future

Wind and solar energy need clean energy financing

State of California, Office of the Attorney General

Financing for clean and renewable energy provides certainty and capital for energy projects. This certainty helps our public lands by being "Smart from the Start" and early planning.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Thursday, July 18th to discuss financing clean energy like wind and solar. This topic can seem pretty complicated and technical for most people, but it is an incredibly important tool for moving our economy away from fossil fuels and towards clean and renewable energy while making sure that our lands are protected and conserved for future generations.

The United States’ energy policy has revealed itself in how it spends its money through tax incentives. Our country long has used its tax policies to help emerging technologies move forward into the marketplace. The United States did that with coal and then oil and gas, and it’s long past time to commit to incentives for renewable energy. For a century, the United States has been subsidizing the oil and gas industry through the tax code – to the tune of almost $4 billion per year today. But the time has certainly come for the country to move away from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Clean energy incentives including the Production Tax Credit for wind and solar and the Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy have been wildly successful in helping to make smart investments in clean energy projects and create clean energy jobs over the last  two decades, with the payoff coming only recently. As an example, between 2008 and 2012, wind power has provided 36.5% of all new generating capacity in the United States due, at least in part, to these successful incentives. We need to continue investing in these tax credits and others to give the clean energy industry certainty and to make sure we don’t continue the stop and start nature that has plagued the industry without a long term predictability.

Another critical reason to make sure that we continue to support stable incentives like a long-term extension of the Production Tax Credit is the importance of making sure that we build new energy projects and transmission in a way that is “Smart from the Start.” This means, working to make sure that all energy development is guided to lands that are less sensitive and do not endanger important habitats and landscapes. By making sure that companies have the long term financing and certainty to make decisions that take into account a long range vision that looks at lands and energy needs. Clean energy financing is a crucial part of this puzzle.

We hope the Senate takes a long hard look at the tools available to them in the clean energy field and shifts our nation’s tax policy from one focused on a multi-billion dollar industry, oil and gas, to one that has the promise of clean and renewable energy.