The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been sweeping and pervasive. It has reached beyond those who have fallen ill, lost a job or who have been impacted by local and state stay-at-home orders. Supply chains have been disrupted and entire industries have slowed down. The energy industry has not been spared.
On Sunday, December 27, President Donald Trump signed H.R.133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which includes the federal government's second COVID relief package. Despite reluctance to do so earlier in the year, this package includes many provisions that benefit renewable energy industries and help the country slow the pace of global warming.
In a joint statement, House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the agreement reached by Congress includes "sweeping clean energy reforms." Those reforms include enhancements for research and development, efficiency incentives and extensions of clean energy tax credits.
Credits include extensions on the solar and wind production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC). The legislation will extend the PTC and ITC for land-based wind for one year at 60% of the project's full value, extend the solar ITC two years at 26% and, for the first time, give offshore wind projects a 30% ITC for projects that began construction starting Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 31, 2025. It also extends the tax credit for carbon capture by two years.
In addition, the bill includes measures that may bring business to electrical contractors. It extends credits for energy efficient homes—up to $2,000 for new energy efficient homes through 2021—and spends $1.7 billion reauthorizing the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which now considers renewable energy installations a weatherization measure.
The package will also reduce the costs of short-term, long-term, seasonal and transportation energy storage technologies through a $1.08 billion investment over five years. It additionally includes $2.36 billion for smart grid technology.
Lastly, the bill will provide $1.5 billion and $625 million for wind and solar research and development, respectively. It also includes research and development funding for advanced nuclear, carbon capture and storage, carbon removal and more.