WASHINGTON - The American Public Power Association and Large Public Power Council on Friday sent letters to the Senate urging members to extend and modify the Clean Renewable Energy Bond program to ensure that public power providers will receive allocations under the program.

The two-page letter comes as Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and John Ensign, R-Nev., on Thursday introduced the Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act of 2008. It would extend energy tax incentives, including the CREBs program, and provide an additional $400 million of CREBs to state and local governments, public power providers and cooperatives that are not eligible for renewable energy tax credits.

CREBs are taxable bonds that provide holders with income tax credits in lieu of tax-exempt interest payments. Congress has already authorized $1.2 billion of CREBs under a program created in 2005 that is scheduled to expire later this year. The Cantwell/Ensign bill, which has 21 co-sponsors, would extend the program through 2009 and provide the $400 million of additional CREBs, allocating one third of that amount to each of the three groups: state, local or tribal governments; public power providers; and electric cooperatives.

The two public power groups told the Senators that the legislation should create a separate pool of bonds to be issued only by public power utilities and require a pro-rata allocation of the pool of CREBs to be issued by public power providers. These provisions were included in energy legislation agreed to by both the House and Senate last year, but were stripped from the bill along with other energy tax extenders before being passed by Congress.

The provisions are key to the groups because public power providers thus far have received only a small amount of CREB allocations from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS typically allocates CREBs on a smallest-to-largest basis, which tends to favor governments and electric cooperatives over public power providers whose projects are typically bigger.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that she will urge President Bushwhen he meets with congressional leaders next week to support a second stimulus package that would boost the economy. Pelosi called for the measure after the Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy lost 80,000 jobs in March, the largest monthly job decline in nearly five years.

 

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