Thursday, November 9, 2017

GOP tax plan could suck the juice out of NJ clean-energy

Just when New Jersey's clean-energy advocates find
an ally in the governor’s office to back their agenda,
the federal government is moving to phase out tax incentives that have helped promote solar and wind energy, as well as electric vehicles.

Tom Johnson reports for NJ Spotlight:

New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy won a string of endorsements from environmentalists for his clean-energy platform, which included a goal of having 100 percent of the state’s electricity generated by renewable energy by 2050.
But achieving that target could prove difficult if Republicans in Washington, D.C., succeed in passing a tax plan that would eliminate and slash tax credits that encourage the use of solar and wind power, and give consumers more of an incentive to switch to electric vehicles.
The tax-reform plan now being debated by Congress would eliminate a $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles, reduce a tax credit for wind production by one-third, and eventually phase out an existing tax credit for solar after 2027.

Undermining NJ’s efforts

The actions could complicate the state’s plans to ramp up its reliance on renewable energy, as well undermine efforts to build the infrastructure for electric vehicles and convince motorists to switch to cleaner-running vehicles.
“This plan barely touches huge tax giveaways for fossil fuels,’’ said Ana Unruh Cohen, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “But it would zero-out cost-effective electric-vehicle tax credits and weaken tax credits for wind and solar that are creating jobs, spurring innovation, meeting consumer demand, and cleaning up the air.’’
In New Jersey, as elsewhere in the Northeast, the biggest source of greenhouse-gas emissions contributing to global warming is the transportation sector. The state’s global-warming reduction law requires an 80 percent decrease in such emissions by 2050, a target that likely will be impossible to meet unless steep cuts from vehicles are achieved, according to clean-energy advocates.
Sen. Bob Smith, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, is planning to put a priority in the next legislative session in January on moving a package of bills that would promote the use of electric vehicles. Losing the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles is a blow to that goal.
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