Clean energy tech remains in $1.75T bill headed to Senate

U.S. House Democrats passed the Build Back Better Bill on Friday by 220-213 with only  one Democrat voting against it.  It now goes to the Senate where passage is questionable with at least one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, concerned over the cost of $1.75 trillion-plus proposal.

The bill is important to many in the technology sector because it calls for $555 billion in measures to fight climate change through clean energy tech, while the remainder of the bill is focused on social spending such as universal pre-K, child tax credits and more.

The climate measures include $320 billion for tax credits for companies and consumers that install solar panels, improve energy efficiency in buildings and buy electric vehicles. The credits could cut the cost of installing rooftop panels by 30% and lower the cost of EVs by $12,500, according to Biden Administration officials.

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Also in that $555 billion is $110 billion in incentives to spur new domestic supply chains and technologies for solar, batteries and advanced materials.  Another $105 billion is for addressing extreme weather with the creation of the Civilian Climate Corps, staffed by 300,000 people.

In order to get the EV tax credit, a buyer would need to purchase an EV made with American-batteries and with  union labor. The union provision has concerned Tesla and Toyota and other non-union companies. Tesla CEO Elon Musk even tweeted that Biden is a United Auto Workers “puppet.”

Manchin has already said he doesn’t support the tax credit for union-produced vehicles, which shows there will be maneuvering with the provisions of the bill. Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has said the measure could be passed by the end of the year, although it isn’t clear in what form. The Senate is evenly split along party lines 50-50 and any Democrat fallout would prevent passage.

On Monday, President Biden signed into law a separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure that invests heavily in roads, bridges, airports, ports and mass transit along with $65 billion for high-speed internet expansion.   The measure invests $7.5 billion to build out a national network of EV chargers in the U.S. and $5 billion for electric school buses.

The House approved the infrastructure measure on Nov. 5 on a bipartisan vote of 228-206. Thirteen Republicans supported it while six Democrats voted against it. The Senate had passed it by 69-30 on Aug. 10, one of the rare signs of bipartisanship in the body.