Clean Energy Sector Makes Strong Case for Coronavirus Aid

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As we have reported, the clean energy sector is down more than 620,000 jobs thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and the industry is now pushing hard for relief from Congress in the form of tax credits that companies would receive as cash payments (a deal Congress gave some companies) and delaying the phase-down of other tax incentives.  Nearly 200 Democratic members of the House of Representatives signed a joint letter to Speaker Pelosi urging Congress to pass these proposals, at the same time as the Sierra Club and other NGOs criticize the House for failing to provide clean energy companies relief in previous stimulus bills.

Why This Matters:  While there may be some overcounting in jobs lost or undercounting of the number covered under the generic PPP stimulus program, there is no doubt the sector has been “decimated” as the clean energy industry claims.  It had been one very bright spot in terms of job growth until the virus struck. These are the good-paying jobs of the future — and are essential to making our climate goals and reducing greenhouse gas emissions — not just because they grow the economy and help to reduce energy costs and increase efficiency for all Americans.  

Republicans Divided

Some Republicans support the specific proposals urged by the industry for tax credits as cash payments and tax break extensions – as we explained, they requested tax extensions for renewable energy firms from the Treasury Department last month and they got them. But other Republicans are fighting these provisions as unrelated to the COVID pandemic and accused Democrats of using the pandemic to push their “green” agenda.  Fossil fuel companies are also seeking more relief (though they have already have been recipients of big handouts) because they have shed more than 100,000 jobs since February, but they are undercut by their own argument that oil and gas are starting to come back now on their own.

What If There Is No More Relief?

The clean energy industry association reps told reporters that without specific relief for them, there will be even more layoffs ahead. “We need Congress to quit ignoring the size, the scope, and the economic importance of clean energy in America,” Bob Keefe, executive director of E2, the Washington Examiner reported.  “And we need to quit letting the rest of the world leave America in the dust when it comes to energy innovation and jobs and the investments that come with it,” Keefe added.  Still, the clean energy sector should improve on its own eventually.  As fossil fuel companies are increasingly struggling financially and losing financial backers, clean energy projects are still seen as a good investment.

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