The apparent collapse last week of wide-ranging tax discussions just as congressional negotiators were on the cusp of a deal leaves hanging in the balance a framework that would have phased out a key energy incentive over the next several years. Bipartisan negotiators believed yesterday they were about to solidify a nearly $450 billion deal to make permanent 10 tax breaks for businesses and individuals, temporarily extend dozens of additional incentives through next year, and phase out the production tax credit (PTC) through at least 2017 (E&ENews PM, Nov. 25). But the Obama administration objected to the package’s tilt toward business credits and lack of permanent incentives for low-income workers and parents, issuing an eleventh-hour veto threat that largely scuttled the negotiations, sources familiar with the process said today.
China must invest $145 billion per year in technologies to increase its use of renewable energy to meet the goals laid out in the recent U.S.-China climate deal, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. An annual additional injection of $54 billion above business as usual would enable the share of renewable energy in China’s energy mix to hit 26 percent, according to the report from IRENA with support from the China National Renewable Energy Centre. The report is part of IRENA’s goal to double the share of renewable energy in the world’s energy mix by 2030.
The New Jersey Board of Utilities again opted to oppose construction of a pilot offshore wind project in waters near Atlantic City on Friday, saying the electricity produced will be too expensive, despite the millions in federal funding the project was awarded this spring. “The project does not provide a net economic and environmental benefit to New Jersey ratepayers,” the BPU wrote in a document outlining its decision.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Colette Honorable, President Obama’s nominee to join the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, on Dec. 4. Honorable’s confirmation was put on hold in September because of the sudden death of her husband, but Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the panel’s chairwoman, said she wanted to push forward with a confirmation hearing.
The wind industry is citing results from a poll it commissioned to argue voters want Congress to extend the production tax credit before the end of this year as opponents continue to argue the incentive is too costly. The American Wind Energy Association-commissioned poll found 73 percent of registered voters, including 63 percent of Republicans, said they would support “keeping the Production Tax Credit in place so that investment in wind energy can continue.” It also found that 79 percent of registered voters agreed with the statement “incentives for investment in wind energy help American workers make more of our own energy right here in America.”
In general, the package will temporarily extend through the end of next year the more than 50 tax breaks collectively known as extenders that were included in a Finance Committee package, S. 2260, earlier this year. About 10 of the tax breaks that had been temporary will become permanent, including the research and development tax credit, and the PTC will be phased out, sources tracking the process said. A tax break for transit riders also could become permanent in the package, while several other energy-related breaks are likely to get temporary extensions. However, the White House signaled its strong opposition to the reported $450 billion package soon after details began emerging this afternoon.
With negotiators nearing an accord on permanent tax breaks for businesses worth $440 billion over 10 years, President Obama rallied Democratic opposition on Tuesday and promised a veto. The president would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families,” said Jennifer Friedman, a White House spokeswoman.The deal, negotiated by House Republicans and aides to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the outgoing majority leader, showed how much power has shifted since the Republican election victories this month. The negotiations fractured Democrats, and separated the Obama administration from Mr. Reid.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is working on a proposed rule that would ensure that two important segments of the nation’s energy sector — the electric and gas industries — are aligned. FERC’s proposed rule, part of a series of orders, would revise the agency’s current regulations to better coordinate the schedule of gas and power markets, a needed step in light of the country’s growing dependence on natural gas.
The Interior Department today announced it will hold an auction Jan. 29 of 742,000 acres of federal waters off Massachusetts for commercial wind development, the agency’s largest competitive lease sale to date. The Massachusetts wind energy area could support up to 5,000 megawatts of wind generation, according to scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. A dozen companies have qualified to take part in the online auction, which will consider both monetary and nonmonetary factors — such as community benefit or power purchase agreements — to determine a winner
The conservative Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is publishing advertisements pushing individual Republicans to oppose tax credits for wind energy. The ads launched Monday in the hometown newspapers of 15 GOP representatives in eight states who have not given clear positions on the wind energy production tax credit since it expired at the end of last year.