Bill Introduced to Extend Fuel Cell Tax Credit Extension and Spur Commercialization

January 18, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Fuel cell developers and their suppliers applauded the introduction of a bill in the United States Congress that would provide long term tax credits for fuel cells and solar technologies.

"Long-term tax credits are an essential component of fuel cell commercialization. They help build confidence among early adopters, level the competitive playing field and stimulate cost reduction and product innovation," said Robert Rose, Executive Director of the US Fuel Cell Council, the industry trade association. "Credits will also accelerate fuel cell deployment, thus helping assure that the benefits of fuel cells are fully realized."

The bipartisan bill, titled the "Securing America’s Energy Independence Act," was introduced by Congressman Mike McNulty (D-NY) and Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI). The legislation would allow businesses and property owners to deduct 30% of the cost of the fuel cell unit, up to $1,000 per kilowatt through 2016. A similar credit, on the books since 2005, is scheduled to expire at the end of 2008. Senators Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) are expected to introduce a companion bill in the Senate shortly.

Fuel cells utilize hydrogen or hydrogen rich fuels to produce electricity without combustion, yielding high efficiency and unmatched environmental benefits. Fuel cells are currently meeting customer needs in a number of niche markets. The investment tax credit helps bring down the initial cost of the unit, making them more cost competitive and expanding the marketplace.

"Investment tax credits for non-passenger-vehicle fuel cells will stimulate the supplier market, lower production costs, foster innovation and provide experience to customers and potential customers," Rose added. "The economies of scale developed in these markets will make possible the technical improvements and cost reductions needed to succeed in the transportation sector."

The USFCC current product list identifies nearly 50 fuel cell products available for commercial purchase. Many will benefit from the extension of the investment tax credit. The bill also is designed to extend the investment tax credit for solar installations and the two industries are working together to support the extension.