Could Congress do it again? With the president’s signature barely dry on a historic legislative compromise giving both parties major energy wins, pundits and Capitol Hill staffers this week said it’s tough to assess whether the agreement lifting the crude oil exports ban and extending key renewable tax credits for five years was a one-off event or a formula for bipartisan success going forward.
Who would have imagined that the U.S. would be moving, in a bipartisan way, to advance its climate policy and clean energy goals less than a week after the Paris agreement? And yet in the budget deal , Democrats traded a lifting of the oil export ban for an extension of much-desired tax credits for wind and solar.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Monday that Virginia must use solar energy to help power state government. As a way to jump start the solar industry in the commonwealth, McAuliffe said state office buildings will derive 8 percent of their energy from solar sources in the next three years. The utility giant Dominion Virginia Power will generate 75 percent of the solar energy, some of which will come from panels installed on state property.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged to revisit the extension of a key tax credit in the omnibus spending deal that also lifted the ban on crude oil exports, saying it was “inadvertently” applied only to solar, when other renewables should have received the same treatment. Under the agreement, the 30 percent investment tax credit was extended for five years, with its value shrinking in 2020 and 2021. The phaseout language was also included in the five-year extension of the renewable production tax credit, which is most commonly associated with wind
China, the world’s biggest clean energy investor, plans to increase wind and solar power capacity by more than 21 percent next year as it works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting its reliance on coal. The nation is targeting at least 20 gigawatts of new wind power installations and 15 gigawatts of additional photovoltaic capacity next year, the National Energy Administration said in a statement last week.
Lawmakers agreed to extend about a half-dozen provisions for five years. They were the ones that were strongly supported by one party, but not the other, said a senior tax aide. They include so-called bonus depreciation, which provides more generous investment write-offs for equipment purchases; the New Markets tax credit, which subsidizes investment in low-income areas; and a credit for the wind-power industry.
Wind and solar power appear set for a record-breaking year in 2016 as a clean-energy construction boom gains momentum in spite of a global glut of cheap fossil fuels. Installations of wind turbines and solar panels soared in 2015 as utility companies went on a worldwide building binge, taking advantage of falling prices for clean technology as well as an improving regulatory and investment climate. Both industries have seen stock prices jump since Congress approved an extension of tax credits for renewables as part of last month’s $1.14 trillion budget deal.
Right before the holidays, Congress approved tax credits for clean energy. It was just a tiny part of a $1.8 trillion spending bill, but solar and wind power companies say it’s a Christmas present that will catapult their industry forward. Analysts are predicting a big boost in wind and solar projects over the next few years. Thanks to fracking, solar and wind power now have to compete with supercheap natural gas. So more than ever, if you run a solar or wind farm you want to squeeze every bit of power and efficiency you can out of it. And you can see that at SunEdison’s national control center in Boston.
As expected, President Obama has vetoed two resolutions aimed at killing U.S. EPA’s carbon rules for power plants. Congress passed the resolutions quashing the central piece of Obama’s climate change agenda in the hope of embarrassing the administration during the recent international negotiations in Paris. S.J. Res. 23 targeted EPA’s rule to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new and modified power plants, while S.J. Res. 24would eliminate the Clean Power Plan.
Last April, inside a hangar-size building tucked in a corner of the Quonset Business Park, workers with Specialty Diving Services were making parts of the massive steel foundations for the five wind turbines that Providence-based Deepwater Wind plans to install in ocean waters off Block Island. The work marked the start of construction in Rhode Island on a project that had been years in the making and will take another year to complete.