Like you, I've been watching the drama unfold regarding the financial developments over the past month, along with the government's effort to react. As you probably read by now, the second attempt at a "rescue" bill started in the Senate instead of the House. To increase the legislation's overall appeal, it contained a number of other measures -- "festooned," to use the word Senator McCain chose in the first debate to describe bills with a bunch of stuff hung on them like ornaments on a Christmas tree.

A release sent yesterday fromAHRIpoints out that some of this extra material applies to our industry, and may turn out to be less like an ornament and more like a present under the tree. That it would help consumers and energy managers increase their own energy efficiency doesn't hurt, either.

Let me hand things over to the AHRI release:

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided valuable federal tax credits for consumers who purchased and made specific energy efficiency upgrades to their homes such as installing highly efficient central air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters, boilers and heat pumps. Those incentives, which expired last year, will be extended through 2009 if the Senate-passed bill is ultimately signed into law ...
For commercial buildings, the Senate bill extends for five more years a tax deduction for expenses incurred for energy efficient building expenditures made by a building owner. The deduction is limited to $1.80 per square foot of the property, with allowances for partial deductions for improvements in interior lighting, HVAC and hot water systems, and building envelope systems.

I've written about updating the tax laws regarding depreciation a couple of times over the years in the magazine's Editor's Note. AHRI President Stephen Yurek explains how this latest move would help.

“This extension provides a more realistic time period for building owners to take advantage of the incentive,” said Yurek. “It takes, on average, 5 years from commissioning to completion of a new building, but the deduction, which was included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expires this year, only gave building owners two years to take advantage of it.  This severely limited the value of the incentive and its original intent of achieving a nation of high performance buildings and reducing peak electrical demand.”

Wall Street is acting quite skittish as the bill maneuvers the purgatory between Senate approval and the House vote, although I doubt that has much to do with the fact that the HVAC industry and energy efficiency have been folded into this remarkable storyline. We'll check back in after the House vote, and pending approval there, again later to see how this element fares if it has to weather a trip through committee to a final version.