By: Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power Inc.
On Thursday, June 23, I represented Plug Power as a guest speaker at the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association’s (FCHEA’s) 4th annual Congressional Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Policy Briefing on Capitol Hill. We presented to more than 100 House and Senate staff members. This unprecedented attendance represents a strong support for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
The topic of discussion was “creating a level playing field,” among alternative power technologies. This playing field was upset by an error in recent legislation which favors a few technologies and is interfering with the market’s ability to pick winners and losers in the alternative energy market.
Late last year, Congress agreed to a spending bill that extended tax credits for wind and solar power technologies. By open, bipartisan acknowledgement, tax credits for fuel cells, and other advanced energy resources, should have been included in that legislation, but were erroneously left out – an issue that has created a tremendous market distortion.
Leveling the playing field requires that the same tax credits be extended for fuel cells and other advanced energy technologies. And, timing is critical. Real jobs, energy security and American leadership in this emerging industry are all at risk.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) opened the briefing by explaining their support for the fuel cell and hydrogen energy industry, the need for sustained funding for research and development, and calling for renewal and extension of needed tax incentives to provide parity in the market.
Other industry speakers joining me, included Dr. Sunita Satyapal, Director of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office within the Department of Energy; Jana Barresi, Director of Federal Relations at Walmart; Frank Wolak, Vice President of FuelCell Energy and Chairman of FCHEA; and, Jonathan Powers, Managing Director of Public Sector Business Development for Bloom Energy.
Each and every speaker reinforced the message of the commercial success of hydrogen fuel cells for applications including material handling vehicles, stationary power, and on-road vehicle-power. It’s no doubt, America leads the world in innovative fuel cell solutions, a situation that remains crucial to the nation’s energy future.
Our industry’s message to Congress is that time is of the essence and we can work to maintain our global leadership in fuel-cell technology. We urge Congress to extend the fuel cell investment tax credits as soon as possible.
I’ve teamed up with KR Sridhar of Bloom Energy to publish an editorial on this topic in The Hill.