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Clean energy could mean tax breaks

Electric windmills on a hill in California

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: Congress votes today on a bill that would renew billions of dollars in tax breaks for clean energy projects like solar, wind and biomass. Experts say the money is needed despite record private investment in the sector. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports.


Sam Eaton: The House bill would extend about $54 billion in expired tax breaks for renewable energy sources. Even without government subsidies, renewable energy projects in the U.S. are booming. Just last week, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens announced a $2 billion investment in what's been billed the world's largest wind farm.

But Jim Presswood, with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says it's still too early to end federal support.

Jim Presswood: At some point in the future we'll reach that point, but we haven't yet. And if you're going to wean them off prematurely, that could result in some pretty serious setbacks in the industry.

He says the budding solar, biomass and geothermal industries still need subsidies to compete with cheaper coal-fired electricity. Many of these projects are on hold while funders wait to see whether Congress renews the tax credits.

In Los Angeles, I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

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