New ideas in sustainability (Rep. David Wu)


My bill awards a federal tax credit of up to 35 percent of the total cost of a project to buildings that exceed the energy efficiency standard used by the Department of Energy by at least 40 percent.  The credit is also capped at $4.00 per square foot, helping ensure that taxpayers are supporting the additional costs of more sustainable technologies, without allowing developers to simply inflate the project’s overall cost to claim a larger tax credit.

This new energy program would be run by state departments of energy, many of which already have the appropriate infrastructure and staff in place.  This diffuse structure will allow states to augment their existing energy efficiency programs, rather than start from scratch, and help businesses make changes faster.

While increasing energy efficiency in commercial buildings is an important piece of improving our sustainability, home owners must also have adequate incentive to use new energy technologies.  The second bill that I introduced this week, H.R. 3660, raises the maximum tax credit that families can receive for using clean, efficient fuel cell systems.

Currently, other renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, and geothermal energy, are eligible for the same tax credit of $1,500, regardless of whether they are used in a commercial or residential setting.  Only fuel cells received disparate tax treatment, with families only able to claim $500 for residential use.

My bill gives the same tax credit limit that qualifying wind, solar, and geothermal technologies get to fuel cells, making both commercial and residential use eligible for a $1,500 tax credit.  Fuel cell technology gives families access to systems that can provide both heat and power from a clean, efficient energy source, and they deserve the same tax support that commercial developers get for using renewable power.

As we work to ensure that America uses clean and renewable energy sources, policies like these are essential to help individuals and businesses install new technologies, create sustainable structures, and support industries that are ahead of the curve.  That’s true in Oregon, and good for America.