Can Clean Energy Bonds help scale solar and wind?

Policy Matters

Can Clean Energy Bonds help scale solar and wind?

Voluntary corporate sustainability initiatives are essential, but they alone are insufficient. Policy changes can help establish a new economy that values equity as much as profit, protects public and worker health, recognizes the value of natural resources for future generations, and creates healthy communitiesHere are three key pro-business initiatives that the American Sustainable Business Council and others are working on.

1. Approve the Clean Energy Victory Bond Program

America must increase the flow of investment in energy security and job creation while addressing the climate crisis. Clean Energy Victory Bonds will help by boosting funding for the domestic clean energy sector.

A special form of U.S. Treasury Savings Bonds, Clean Energy Victory Bonds would be offered in denominations as low as $25, allowing millions of Americans to invest in a clean-energy economy through a safe government-backed investment. The CEVB is an investment opportunity, not a tax, to build our clean-energy economy.

What’s at stake?

As defined in recently introduced House legislation (H.R. 6275) (PDF), bond sales could reach $50 billion in private investment, which would then be leveraged to provide up to $150 billion in public and private financing. This would create an estimated 1.7 million innovative energy jobs.

What’s exciting about CEVB is that it would create a dedicated stream of funding to invest in federal clean energy and infrastructure projects, like the smart grid, plug-in electric vehicles and charging stations, high-performance buildings and wind and solar farms. Rather than having to rely exclusively on Congress to appropriate funds, the CEVB will provide public funding.

What can you do?

2. Support “Right to Know” Labeling of Foods Containing GMOs

Californians will vote this November on a ballot proposition that requires manufacturers of food products to disclose the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on food labels. More than 45 countries with over 40 percent of the world’s population, including the entire European Union and China, require GMO disclosure. If Proposition 37 passes, California would become the first state in the U.S. to require such labeling.

What’s at stake?

Agribusinesses likes GMOs because they save companies money. Growers who plant GMOs can apply weed-killer indiscriminately to an entire field, knowing that the genetically engineered food crops will live while the weeds are killed. But the long-term health impact of GMOs and herbicide use is unknown. And health is not the only concern. The undisclosed and unregulated use of GMOs wrecks the business models of farmers who raise food in a healthy and sustainable way. Businesses that grow, process, distribute and serve healthy food want their customers to know about GMOs. Americans deserve to know what’s in their food and have the right to choose what type of food they consume.

What can you do?

  • Californians can join a campaign in support and vote in favor of the proposition.
  • Others can educate themselves about the issue and join efforts to make labeling mandatory in every state in the country.

3. Extend the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC)
Originally signed into law by President Bush seven years ago, the PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity generated from wind and other renewable sources. It has been responsible for ushering in dramatic growth in wind energy; wind accounts for 35 percent of all new power capacity in the United States. The PTC has contributed to a resurgence in domestic manufacturing of power generation equipment

Under current law, the tax credit will expire at the end of 2012. The delay in extending the credit has already caused factory orders for wind turbine infrastructure and components to fall, leading to layoffs. States affected include Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, and Iowa.

In years past, the PTC extension moved easily through Congress in an “extenders” bill, a package of provisions like the research and development tax credit and other small business tax breaks. However, during this Congress, partisanship and election-year politics has complicated the passage of even the least controversial of bills.

What’s at stake?

Climate protection and jobs both depend on the PTC. The PTC will bring online 8 to 10 gigawatts of renewable energy annually, further reducing the nation's reliance on fossil fuels. The credit could save 37,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2013 (which would be lost from the expiration of the PTC) and add 100,000 new wind-supported jobs by 2016 (as PTC-supported wind power continues to grow).

What can you can do?

Tell Congress that the PTC is good for American business and should be extended as soon as the lame-duck session starts. Letters from companies carry disproportionate weight.

  • Endorse the business letter and engage your trade association to consider endorsing.
  • Urge Congress to extend the PTC.