Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cleantech Goes to Washington (earth2tech)

As the presidential candidates learn to speak the language of cleantech, green investors are using their political voices. VC legend John Doerr, Google’s Green Energy Czar William Wiehl, and more than 350 others from the cleantech, academic, venture capital, energy and nonprofit worlds have signed a letter addressed to the House of Representatives and Senate leaders urging them to renew energy legislation that’s helping to keep greentech projects alive.

The Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) are set to expire before the end of the year; the group of letter signers wants them to be renewed by March 1.

The time is now for the United States to enhance and sustain policy priorities to prevent immediate and long-term interruptions in the renewable energy sector.

Not familiar with the alphabet soup of green legislation? The PTC subsidizes energy produced from a variety of renewable sources, while the ITC allows businesses to get tax credits for investments in clean technologies. The problem is that both the ITC and PTC are never renewed for more than a year or two at a time, so the risk of them lapsing is always around the corner.

And the PTC was actually snipped out of the Senate’s economic stimulus package last week. While most think both will be renewed before their expiration, this legislative purgatory has many entrepreneurs and venture capitalists on edge. Especially since renewing the ITC and PTC for another year won’t be enough.

The Democrats’ new energy plan could help, but if the U.S. government wants the country to be the leader in clean technology, it will have to provide a more stable, certain regulatory environment to enable these businesses to make long-term investments and embark on long-term projects. Otherwise, Doerr and his Sand Hill Road compatriots might start investing more of their cleantech money outside of the U.S.

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