Clean energy here we come: How Build Back Better could change how you power your life

Tell Congress now is the time to act on financial incentives for clean energy

Rooftop solar panels
Hannah Read

If you’ve been putting off transitioning your home into a renewable energy hub, consider this the sign you’ve been waiting for. Right now, Congress is debating a budget package that could be your ticket to finally ditching fossil fuels. If the programs currently in the Build Back Better Act become law, they have the potential to change how people like you and me produce and consume energy. 

The United States has a nearly unlimited supply of renewable energy. We have the resources we need for every American to power their lives with clean climate-saving power. It’s just a question of making it financially viable. The policies in the Build Back Better Act will create that access by making it easier and more affordable for states, businesses and individuals to tap into renewable energy resources directly. 

Let’s take a closer look at what this bill could mean for you.

Clean Energy Tax Credits

The incentives in question come in the form of a new-and-improved suite of clean energy tax credits. At its core, a tax credit reduces the amount of money you pay to the federal government. Simply put, in the case of clean energy tax credits, if you decide to install photovoltaic panels or take advantage of your local community solar garden, you’d pay less in taxes at the end of the year as a result. 

And it’s not just individuals who could benefit. These credits could make it feasible for your local congregation to put solar on its roof, and give states the confidence to develop plans to install solar on the sides of interstates or on school roofs. Tax credits through 2030 will give institutions, whether it’s churches, towns or states, the confidence of knowing they have the long-term financial support to invest in new clean energy projects. 

Tax credits are the behind-the-scenes workhorses largely responsible for the growth of clean energy over the past decade. Wind energy has tripled since the enactment of tax credits by 2009, and solar has seen annual growth of 52% nationwide. In the wake of Hurricane Ida, Environment America’s energy program director, Johanna Neumann, talked to Louisiana residents. In every single case, those who had solar on their roof  pointed to state and federal tax credits as a key reason for installing these clean energy marvels. In addition, they said the choice to go solar also helped them weather power-outages caused by  the storm.

For the 40% of Americans who live in coastal states, this new suite of tax credits could be a game-changer when it comes to tapping offshore wind. We have enough offshore wind potential to power the country almost twice over. The first large-scale project in the nation was approved earlier this year and is slated to power 400,000 homes in Massachusetts with clean renewable energy that doesn’t pollute. We’ve barely scratched the surface of our offshore wind potential, and long-term tax credits will enable us to fully take advantage of this abundant renewable resource. You can find more about how much energy your state could be getting from offshore wind here

What makes these changes particularly important is that they would update and extend clean energy tax credits by 10 years (until at least 2033). This will set the course for long-term growth in clean energy because when the new neighbors move in across the street in five years, they’ll see your solar panels and won’t have to worry if they can get the same financial incentives. In fact, whether it’s investing in a heat pump or making your home more energy-efficient, tax credits can help.

How You Can Take Action For Clean Energy Tax Credits

The House Ways and Means Committee has put forward their plan to include the updates we need to clean energy tax credits in the budget, but it’s not a done deal. Congress is still debating what will get included in the final budget package, and we need to make sure tax credits don’t get left out. These credits will expire if we don’t act. Our senators need to hear this is a top priority from their constituents. By doing so, we’ll have an essential tool to help build a greener, healthier future with renewable energy. Send a message to your Senator today.


Hannah Read

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