Questions Answered: Sen. Snowe's Office Speaks with NWDA Regarding
Tax Credit Criteria
April 24, 2009
Members of the Northeast Window and Door Association (NWDA) participated
in a Washington "fly-in" yesterday during which members
were able to speak with a representative from Sen. Olympia Snowe's
(R-Maine) office regarding the 30/30 criteria for door and window
tax credits provided for in the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act. The legislation includes a $1,500 tax credit for energy-efficient
doors and windows, but specifies that these products must have a
U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient of 0.30-and many industry
representatives have been wondering where these figures originated,
as they differ from ENERGY STAR and offer a "one-size-fits-all"
approach throughout the nation.
|Patrick Woodcock, Senator Snowe's legislative
assistant (foreground), met with NWDA members yesterday in Washington,
"Last fall, during the debate of which tax credits should
be extended this [window tax credits] were not included," said
Patrick Woodcock, Snowe's legislative assistant. "She was irate."
He said the credits were taken out because the cost had ballooned
to a billion and a half dollars per year.
So when the stimulus legislation came out in early 2009, Woodcock
said Snowe was pleased that the proposal included windows, which
he points out account for the largest part of the 25C tax credits.
But as costs of the legislation continued to rise, cost became an
"The score [costs] went up to $4.5 billion," said Woodcock.
"The Senate then looked to this provision for where to cut."
One proposal from Snowe that was not included in the final bill
is that the window tax credits would not take effect until January
"By doing it now, Senate leadership thought it would save
$700 million," said Woodcock.
He added that Snowe would have even liked to see the tax credit
at a higher number. "It was a modest tax credit," he says.
As to why the 30/30 numbers differ from ENERGY STAR, Woodcock said
the Department of Energy (DOE) didn't have its final criteria published,
which made it difficult during the writing of this legislation.
He also said the final decisions regarding this were made rather
quickly at 3:00 a.m. as the legislation had to be finalized. One
NWDA member joked that next time he can call him to get valuable
But it's evident that the numbers were made more stringent perhaps
than ENERGY STAR so all manufacturers wouldn't qualify, which would
Once Woodcock explained how the legislation came to be, NWDA members
told him that while many manufacturers couldn't meet the 30/30 numbers
right away, soon most will be able to hit those numbers.
"As soon as you came out with these numbers, the industry
went to work," said Darryl Huber of BF Rich, who also serves
as the NWDA president.
Tom Channell of Chelsea Building Products, NWDA second vice president,
added that his company has spent a quarter of a million dollars
helping companies recertify their products to meet the 30/30 standards.
Several attendees asked if the fact that more companies will soon
be offering products that meet the criteria would cause the numbers
to change again.
Woodcock simply answered, "The legislation is law."
The group then asked a variety of questions all relating to how
the criteria will be enforced. Other questions include what happens
to those consumers who purchased windows from January 1-February
"No one should be able to answer that question," said
Woodcock. "Only the IRS can answer that."
"What concerns me the most is that there is no reference to
a standard in the legislation," added Jon Hill of Keystone
Woodcock advised the NWDA to offer their comments regarding enforcement,
etc., to Snowe's office and she will make sure the comments are
given to the IRS as that agency works out the details.
But while many in the industry have criticized the 30/30 criteria,
some NWDA members say the bill did fulfill its intended goal, to
help stimulate the economy, and in doing so, the door and window
"We as a group are pleased this bill passed," said Channell.
"This revitalized a dying industry."
"And it stimulated jobs," Huber added.
"We were concerned with this proposal and we tried to improve
it as best we can," added Woodcock. "
do move companies to make more efficient products."
Earlier in the day, Richard Karney, program manager for the DOE's
ENERGY STAR program, spoke before NWDA members regarding ENERGY
STAR but also addressed the tax credits.
"It hit me as quickly as it hit you," said Karney. "We
received many inquiries asking, 'Why can't you fix it?'" He
then joked, "Even I can't fix it.'"
He said even DOE found out about it at the eleventh hour.
"We had no idea it was coming until 24 hours before it was
passed." He added that DOE was never consulted on the criteria.
Karney also echoed what Woodcock would tell NWDA members later
"Congressional staffers said that if it referenced ENERGY
STAR the cost to the U.S. Treasury would have been too high,"
However, he did say there are two schools of thought on the issue
and said he doesn't have an opinion either way.
"First, I'd love to see ENERGY STAR specified as it would
give the program more credence. The second school of thought is,
Why not make the windows more efficient?"
He also brought up a point that many NWDA members asked as well.
"The tax credit doesn't specify a particular rating. Is it
center of glass, etc." He said the DOE is asking the IRS for
clarification on this matter.
Approximately 12 members participated in the meeting with Woodcock
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