2015 Nissan Leaf charging back at home after 1,000-mile road trip [photo John Briggs]
Fears that Congress would kill the federal tax credit for purchase of a plug-in electric car were laid to rest in December when that incentive survived the $1.5 trillion tax-cut bill.
Now Congress has added back a handful of other tax credits related to electric cars and greener transportation in the $400 billion budget bill it passed in the wee hours of Friday morning, quickly signed by the president.
The 652-page Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (HR 1892) restores a tax credit for installation of alternative-vehicle fueling property that had expired at the end of 2016.
The provision allows a portion of the cost of purchasing and installing a home electric-car charging station to be taken as a credit on 2017 federal tax returns.
Individual and joint filers can claim a credit of 30 percent of that cost, up to a maximum of $1,000, with proper documentation to back up the claim.
The final extension was only for one year, meaning that while it can be taken on 2017 tax filings this year, it will not be usable for tax returns applying to 2018.
2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, 2016 Toyota Mirai at hydrogen fueling station, Fountain Valley, CA
While the Senate version of the legislation (S 2256, the Tax Extender Act of 2017) continued the credit for two years, the final version adopted by the House did not.
That means advocates will likely gear up to lobby for a further extension toward the end of this year.
Taxpayers who purchased or installed a home charging station for electric cars during 2017 will find the forms and rules for individual returns here.
Other credits that were restored include a 10-percent credit up to $2,500 for purchase of an electric motorcycle or three-wheeled electric vehicle, and a $4,000 credit for the purchase of a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.
Environmental and various special-interest groups generally lauded the restoration of the credits.
Coal, nuclear industries benefit
The final bill also included extensions of numerous tax benefits for various parts of the energy sector, most notably the nuclear and "clean coal" industries.
Containers holding spent nucleat fuel [Nuclear Regulatory Commission photo]
Nuclear plants received credits similar to those offered to wind farms for producing electricity. The nuclear industry had previously slammed wind credits for distorting the energy market and hurting production of nuclear energy.
The Nuclear Energy Institute issued a statement saying the credits will support large conventional nuclear plants under construction in Georgia, along with new smaller types of modular reactors planned for Western states.
"Both projects will serve as anchors for energy infrastructure in the Southeast and Mountain West," said Maria Korsnick, the institute's head.
Such plants will, she said, "generate carbon-free electricity, spur economic growth and support a diverse and reliable electric grid for decades to come."
In addition, the spending bill extends for 12 years a tax credit that supports capturing emissions of carbon dioxide from burning coal—both for electricity generation and industrial uses—and storing them underground.
That technology, so far both elusive and costly, was supported by a bipartisan group of senators from the coal-producing states of North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming, along with Rhode Island.
APR Energy's GE TM2500 Gen 8 mobile gas turbines in Puerto Rico
The budget resolution also provides $2 billion to repair the electric grid in Puerto Rico, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Maria last September.
Governor Ricardo Rossello, however, had requested $17 billion for that purpose; he intends to add more renewable energy to the renovated electricity supply infrastructure.
The territory received $16 billion out of a total of $90 billion of disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, and Texas.
More than 400,000 Puerto Ricans remain without electricity almost six months after the hurricane.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version suggested the cost of the tax-cut bill passed in December totaled $1.5 billion. The correct number, as reader John Briggs pointed out, is $1.5 trillion. We apologize for the error.