Cantwell: Historic Tax Package Will Create Green Collar Jobs, Stimulate Local Economy, and Accelerate Clean Energy Transition
Tax Incentives Ensure Washington Continues Clean Energy Leadership
At a press conference today at McKinstry, one of the Pacific Northwest's leading green mechanical construction and engineering firms, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) lauded the Washington companies who will use the green energy tax incentives, enacted due to the Cantwell-led initiative to extend and expand critical tax incentives for Washington families and business. These clean energy tax incentives, used by Washington businesses, will stimulate our country's economy and create hundreds of thousands of new high-wage jobs.
Since being named a member of the Senate Finance Committee in 2007, Cantwell has been a leading public advocate and a behind the scenes force in developing a landmark clean energy tax package that will provide the certainty and stability companies and the credits market need to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy capacity and empowers homeowners to generate and save their own energy. Last month, Cantwell spearheaded the negotiations that ended a nearly year and half Congressional stalemate, allowing this tax extender package to pass the Senate by a vote of 93 to 2, and then be included in the financial rescue legislation.
"This clean energy tax incentives package marks a game-changing decision to begin an urgently needed shift from the fossil fuels era to a clean energy system based on domestically produced and environmentally friendly 21st century technologies," said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy and Finance Committees. "For the first time Congress has voted to take subsidies away from oil and gas companies and allocate the dollars to renewable energy sources. While I wish we could have enacted these incentives sooner, I am proud to have helped broker the bipartisan deal that got this package signed into law. These tax incentives represent real economic stimulus that will help accelerate economic growth in Washington and across the country in one of the few bright spots of our troubled economy."
"McKinstry has long been on the forefront of promoting energy-efficient, green building practices, and we applaud Senator Cantwell's leadership on this legislation. We believe it will promote green collar job creation stimulating investment in clean, renewable energy sources, and reinforce Washington State as leader in clean energy," said David Allen, McKinstry, Executive Vice President.
In a groundbreaking new report entitled Carbon-Free Prosperity 2025, the leading non-profit organization Climate Solutions found that by capitalizing on the Pacific Northwest's dominant position in a number of low-carbon, clean-energy sectors, Washington and Oregon could create over 60,000 green collar jobs and generate 78 percent of its electricity load from hydro and renewable sources by 2025.
Specifically, the clean energy tax incentives signed into law on October 3, 2008:
Accelerates the Transition to Clean Energy System
* Extends the production credit for electricity produced from renewables, like wind, biomass and incremental hydropower. For the first time these production tax credits are extended to wave, tidal, and non-dam hydro technologies which have particular promise in the Pacific Northwest.
* Extends the investment tax credit for solar for eight years, providing the solar industry the market certainty they need to create 440,000 jobs nationally by 2016. In Washington state that translates to more than 10,000 permanent green collar jobs and up to 15,000 construction jobs.
* Extends and expands the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) program that enables public power and consumer-owned utilities that cannot benefit from federal tax credits reduce their renewable energy investment costs.
* In Washington State, 1,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity has already created employment for 2,650 Washingtonians during project construction and an additional 400 permanent jobs for a total economic benefit of $1.1 billion.
* Creates high-paying renewable industry jobs: manufacturing (ie, welders, technicians, assembly, etc.) averaging $41,000, engineering averaging $117,000 and and non-technical (sales, marketing, development, financial, etc.) averaging $52,500.
Helps Americans Save Money By Lowering Their Energy Bills
* Helps homeowners generate their own electricity and hot water by providing a 30 percent tax credit towards the installation of solar electric or hot water systems, and expands the credit to cover residential wind generators and geothermal heat pumps. Homeowners installing these technologies can reduce a household's water heating costs by 50 percent and save Americans $350 a year in energy costs.
* Consumers can also save up to $500 on their taxes if they install energy efficient products in their homes which can translate to big energy savings. For example, installing energy efficient windows that can save an average homeowner $125 to $450 each year and high efficiency heating and cooling equipment can save up to $170 per year, knocking off nearly 10 percent off an average homeowner's annual energy bill.
* Provides new car buyers up to $7,500 to buy plug-in electric cars, trucks or SUVs - vehicles that will start appearing in showroom in 2010 and will likely achieve over 100 miles per gallon. According to a study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, our current electricity infrastructure could support an estimated 70 percent of America's passenger vehicle fleet, which would displace 6.5 million barrels of oil each day, an amount equivalent to 50 percent of our oil imports, and cut greenhouse gases by an estimated 20 percent. And in Washington state, the cost of powering plug-in vehicles would be the equivalent of 70 cents per gallon. This provision is derived from a bipartisan bill authored by Senators Cantwell, Hatch, and Obama last year.
* For the first time energy-efficient stoves are eligible for a consumer tax credit of $300. These stoves can provide an alternative way for homeowners to use renewable resources to heat their homes. Sixty percent of wood pellet stoves on the market are manufactured in Washington state.
Makes America's Electricity Grid More Intelligent
* Provides utilities a tax incentive to put smart meters in Washington homes and businesses. Smart meters are necessary for businesses, homes, and utilities to take advantage of efficient and renewable energy opportunities.
* Making our electricity grid more intelligent will provide double digit cost savings and help prevent future blackouts.
Cantwell has made making our nation's energy system cleaner, more efficient, and more diverse one of her top priorities. She leverages her membership on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources, Commerce, and Finance Committees to push her vision of a clean energy economy and to support budding clean energy industries, while bringing tax relief to the American people.