The Fiscal Cliff Deal: What’s In It for the Service Sector

Thousands of “green” field service organizations in construction, remodeling and clean energy have a lot to smile about in the wake of the fiscal cliff legislation that Congress passed on Jan. 1. The deal contains many renewed or extended tax credits for consumers and businesses alike that will trickle down to the field service employees who install those energy-efficient windows or harvest wind energy. Here’s a roundup of some of the important tax credits in the deal for field service companies:

Green Home Construction & Remodeling


Forbes
Ashlea Ebeling writes a great recap of a $500 tax credit in the fiscal cliff deal — officially called The American Taxpayer Relief Act — to help homeowners pay for the cost of remodeling their homes with more energy-efficient windows, insulation, roofing and other materials that meet Energy Star guidelines.

Ebeling writes that, “The credit is 10% of the cost of the building materials (labor excluded) for insulation, exterior windows and doors that meet Energy Star requirements, and roofs (metal roofs with pigmented coating, or asphalt roofs with cooling granules). So if the cost is $5,000, you get the full $500 credit, except for windows, which have a sublimit of $200. Also eligible towards the $500 maximum credit are: central air conditioners ($300), heat pumps ($300), furnaces ($150) and even corn-fueled stoves ($300).”

And the improving economy has many homeowners eager to make those upgrades that may have put off during the recession. The article cites a report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies that predicts Americans will spend more than $130 billion repairing and remodeling their homes during the first half of 2013.

Who benefits? Green construction and home remodeling companies, appliance installers, smart thermostat vendors, and large retailers such as Home Depot who sell the products covered by the tax credit.

Clean Energy: Wind & Solar

The wind industry was another big beneficiary of the fiscal cliff deal. Congress extended for one year a 2.2-cent tax credit for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced from wind. The wind energy industry — which employees about 75,000 people, many of whom are field service workers — relies on the tax credit to stay in business. The American Wind Energy Association, in a statement issued after Congress approved the deal, estimates that the extension saves 37,000 jobs, nearly half of all Americans employed in the wind industry.

The solar industry, too, was largely spared. GreenTechMedia’s Herman Trabish writes that the deal delays automatic cuts and tax credit expirations until at least March.

Alternative Fuels

Michael Sivy at Time has an extensive write-up of tax breaks and credits that made their way into the final deal, including several for alternative and renewable fuels. Sivy writes:

“Biodiesel. Tax credits for renewable diesel fuel and small agricultural producers of biodiesel will total a hefty $2.2 billion over the next five years. You’d think there would already be plenty of oil available for recycling from restaurant chains that serve french fries.

Other green fuels. Alternative fuels other than liquefied hydrogen will receive $360 million in tax credits over the next two years.”

Read more: What’s Ahead in Green Homebuilding — and What it Means for HVAC