(Adds comments from Institute for Energy Research)
WASHINGTON Jan 15 The $825 billion economic
stimulus package unveiled by Democrats in the U.S. House of
Representatives on Thursday contains billions of dollars in tax
breaks for renewable energy and spending for energy efficiency
The legislation, aimed at boosting the recessionary U.S.
economy, would provide $20 billion in tax cuts for alternative
energy including a multi-year extension of the production tax
credit for wind, geothermal, hydro power and bioenergy.
The bill also contains tax credits for research and
development on energy conservation and efficiency.
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has urged developing
clean energy sources and creating a new "green" economy. He has
pledged to invest $150 billion over 10 years to develop
alternative energy, which he says will create 5 million jobs.
The bill also includes $32 billion to modernize the power
transmission grid; $16 billion to retrofit some public housing
to use less energy; and $2.4 billion to develop technology that
allows coal-fired power plants to capture greenhouse gas
Reid Detchon, executive director of the Energy Future
Coalition, called it essential to update the power grid.
"Thomas Edison would have recognized the technology in the
power grid, so getting the equipment in the power grid to
support the digital economy is one of highest priority
investments we can make," Detchon said.
Detchon called the funds for smart grid technology a "down
payment" for the much larger investment needed to make gains in
alternative energy use, plug-in hybrids and energy efficiency.
Another $6 billion in the stimulus bill would help
weatherize modest-income homes. Obama has said he plans to
weatherize 1 million homes a year.
Critics complained the proposals were an inefficient use of
government resources and did not address expanding oil and
natural gas production or nuclear energy.
"You're basically diverting tax resources to achieve these
goals, when if they were good investments people would be
making them anyway," said Thomas Pyle, president of Institute
for Energy Research.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by David Gregorio)