According to a new poll, three out of four (74 percent) Illinois voters support continuing to provide tax incentives for renewable energy. The poll comes out as Congress considers renewing a number of energy tax credits including the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Both of these federal incentives are designed to spur renewable power development for energy sources such as wind and solar energy. The poll was released by A Renewable America (ARA), a project of the Wind Energy Foundation.The poll also found:
- Support for renewable energy tax incentives is strong across the political spectrum. 60 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of Illinois Independents support continuing renewable energy tax incentives.
- 74 percent of Illinois voters support continuing tax incentives for renewable energy, even when presented with contrasting arguments. This support was particularly strong among younger voters, as 92 percent between the ages of 18 and 29, and 82 percent of voters between the ages of 30 and 39 agree.
- 88 percent of Illinois voters agree with the message that “we should continue to encourage renewable energy development so that the United States can move toward energy independence.”
- 78 percent of Illinois votes agree with the message that “we should have a stable and predictable tax policy, because it makes it easier for the renewable energy industry to plan its investments and continue driving down costs.”
- Nearly half (48 percent) of voters said they would be more favorable to a leader who supported continuing tax credits for renewable energy producers.
- Recently, 46 renewable energy businesses and organizations with a significant presence in Illinois sent a letter to Senator Mark Kirk and Representatives Bob Dold and Pete Roskam, urging their support for timely extensions of the PTC and ITC.
“As an Illinois-based manufacturer, I can say that the policy uncertainty around these incentives jeopardizes industry growth and threatens jobs,” said Joni Konstantelos, director of investor relations and corporate communications for Broadwind Energy. “It’s not surprising that Illinoisans support stable policy to continue the growth of renewable energy in our state.”
According to the Wind Energy Foundation, the PTC had great success in helping spur low-cost wind power development; it expired at the end of 2014. Similarly, the ITC is set to drop from a 30 percent credit to 10 percent for commercial installations at the end of 2016, with the residential credit will fall to zero – unless Congress acts.
Amy Heart, Senior Manager of Public Policy, Sunrun, noted, “It’s clear to me that Illinois citizens support an extension of the ITC to bring more solar to the state and help level the playing field against decades of fossil fuel subsidies. Our elected officials should extend the ITC this year to give certainty to industry with great potential for Illinois.”
Local Illinois businesses and other stakeholders argue, says Wind Energy Foundation, that policy uncertainty around these incentives jeopardizes industry growth and threatens more than 6,000 Illinois jobs. This uncertainty, they add could also slow down the continual and significant cost declines in renewable electricity prices – especially for wind and solar power-that have spurred rapid growth in the renewable industries in recent years.
According to an analysis by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, without an ITC extension, yearly solar deployment will drop 82 percent from 2016 to 2017 and cost more than 3,000 Illinois jobs. On the other hand, a five-year extension of the ITC would lead to $36 million in additional investment in the state from 2016 to 2022 when compared to ITC expiration.