Clean Energy NH (CENH) is closely monitoring the status of discussions for state and federal aid to various industries to alleviate impacts caused to our economy by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At this time, oil prices are down dramatically. Fossil fuel interests are calling for a bailout in the form of a major purchase by the federal government, and likely more. Fossil fuel interests are well-positioned with funding and lobbyists to influence government spending. The clean energy industry, however, also deserves attention and aid from the federal government.
As the pandemic has developed, we have witnessed solar energy projects being delayed or cancelled. Many projects are facing supply chain or workforce issues, coupled with the difficulty of receiving timely permitting and inspections. Energy efficiency contractors are unable to perform critical weatherization work or energy audits, forcing drastic layoffs and threatening the future of the energy efficiency workforce. Offshore wind efforts cannot host public meetings or continue coordination among stakeholders, dragging out already prolonged project timelines and threatening project viability. The list goes on and on. All told, the clean energy industry employs hundreds of thousands of Americans, larger than the fossil fuel industry, and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to our nation’s economy.
It is in our nation’s interest to support the clean energy industry as a smart investment in our energy future.
Federal support for many renewable energy technologies is already in place in the form of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The ITC is in the process, however, of being permanently phased out. The continuation and expansion of this important program is something CENH sees an opportunity to support clean energy during this time of economic downturn.. As one example, by extending the ITC for the next 5 years and re-instituting the grant in lieu of tax credit, as well as expanding eligibility for energy storage, electric vehicles, advanced biomass heating technology and other technologies, the federal government can provide a simple and cost-effective stimulus.
The federal government can also play a vital role in providing stimulus to energy efficiency efforts.. The energy efficiency sector added more new jobs in NH in 2019 than any other energy sector but is now facing some of the largest layoffs. While the short-term business loan program is helpful, the federal government can help this sector by expanding energy efficiency tax credits and instituting an efficiency and conservation block grant program, similar to that of the 2009 stimulus. This will ensure long-term support for the industry after the pandemic.
What You Can Do Today!
CENH is calling on our members and supporters to encourage our Federal delegation to prioritize these items as Congress considers further economic stimulus. Please contact Senators Hassan and Shaheen and your US House Representative. A phone call is best and only takes about one minute but can make a huge difference. Ask them to push for the inclusion of the policies described above in the next round of economic stimulus. It is critically important at this time to support renewable energy, clean transportation, and energy efficiency as we begin the long road ahead of economic recovery. You can find their contact information here; https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.