In the waning hours of the tax bill debate last December, the Obama Administration and GOP leaders released the terms for continuing the Bush-era tax cuts. The framework negotiated between the parties initially omitted any reference to extending the renewable energy programs introduced in 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which were scheduled to sunset at the end of 2010.
The renewable industry responded ferociously. A media blitz hit overnight, and wind and solar lobbyists huddled with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Repeated warnings about job loss and the immediate harm to green energy businesses worked. Lawmakers relented and sanctioned a 1-year extension. The windfall? A check from the U.S. Treasury for 30 percent of a project’s qualifying cost.
With the fuss now behind us, we decided to examine one of the more popular renewable subsidy programs to be extended, the Section 1603 cash grants.…
[This interview of Robert L. Bradley Jr. by Stephen Hicks (website here) is part of a series: Part I (Libertarianism and Energy); Part II (Expanding Energy Horizons); and Part III (Enron as a Political Company).]
Kaizen: You mentioned that Enron was also involved in lots of alternative energy sources—wind power, solar power, “green” energy, and that it was one of the first at the political table. Did Enron think that with the right kind of farsighted investment the new energies could be profitable?
Or was this again part of a political strategy: Alternative energy was a political favorite, certainly during the Clinton Administration years, when Al Gore was vice president? So Enron is getting a seat at the table; and whether alternative energy actually succeeds or not, it’s a good business strategy at least in the short term.…
Some very rational words on energy policy–long needed–have come from Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. But will Congress act on them?
It will take a lot of heretofore undemonstrated courage for members of Congress to take the actions needed to:
1. Convince the Washington Establishment* to recognize that central planning really hasn’t and doesn’t work.
2. Get private sector companies to devote their financial and human resources to innovative and productive efforts rather than (like GE, Duke, Exelon, many Wall St firms, and many others) focusing those resources on “milking” federal and state tax breaks and subsidies.
3. Break the hammerlock that Federal agencies officials and employees, their favorite constituencies (who benefit from our tax dollars), Congressional committees and staff, and lobbyists have on appropriations, credit programs, and tax policies.