The Finance Committee this afternoon wrapped up what its chairman hopes will be the last session it will convene on the tangle of technically temporary but regularly renewed tax incentives collectively known as extenders. Now, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is encouraged that this exercise will provide a “springboard” to consider a full overhaul of the tax code in the next couple of years. However, he first needs the extenders bill to make it through the full Senate and House, where it is likely to encounter more resistance than during this afternoon’s markup, which ended with a nearly unanimous voice vote in favor of renewing the 50 expired or expiring extenders.
en. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) put a greener tint on his package of temporary tax breaks this morning, adding key renewable electricity and efficiency credits to the slate, but he stopped short of considering several tangential proposals, including one to expand the scope of an existing solar energy tax credit and another to encourage natural gas as a transportation fuel.
“The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action,” William Colton, Exxon Mobil’s vice president of corporate strategic planning, said in a statement announcing the reports. Environmentalists welcomed the first-of-its-kind acknowledgement by a major petroleum company that climate change poses real and immediate challenges to the firm’s prospects. But they were less sanguine about the company’s vision for what the global energy sector will look like in 2040.
“In the U.S., there are now nine states that are getting 10 percent or more of their electricity from wind power, with Iowa (25 percent) — a data center hub — topping the list,” the group said. In Iowa, Google has invested $1.5 billion in data center operations in Council Bluffs. Facebook is building a $300 million data center in Altoona that’s expected to grow to $1 billion, and Microsoft has invested nearly $900 million in West Des Moines. West Des Moines is expected to draw another large data center project, with an assessed taxable value of $255 million, city documents indicated last month.
The surprising exclusion drew attention from wind energy’s supporters on and off Capitol Hill. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) proposed an amendment to renew the PTC, drawing support from other members and the wind energy industry. A committee aide said to expect the PTC in that is passed Thursday in the committee.
Hoyer appeared at a state Senate Finance Committee hearing to speak in favor of a bill that would delay a proposed wind turbine project on farmland on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, near the Chesapeake Bay. Hoyer led a parade of political and civic leaders expressing fears that the wind farm could impede critical radar testing across the bay at Patuxent River Naval Air Station — and thus jeopardize the entire existence of the naval base, the economic driver for southern Maryland.
Excess generation will narrow and energy prices could become more volatile as more gas is used to produce electricity, said Kormos, who works for PJM — a grid operator that oversees the energy system in 13 states and the District of Columbia. “The electric power industry is in the midst of the greatest fuel shift in its history, and the PJM wholesale energy markets are managing through the transition,” he said
U.S. EPA sent its draft guidance for curbing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants to the White House yesterday, leaving two months for interagency vetting before the proposal’s expected June 2 release date. The Office of Management and Budget’s regulatory website reported the transfer this morning of the rule, a key component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
Tax credits for biofuels and other gasoline alternatives, energy-efficient new homes and coal producers in Indian Country would be reinstated under legislation unveiled today by the Senate’s top tax writers. The wind industry and other renewable electricity producers still have some lobbying ahead of them, as Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) did not propose a renewal of the production tax credit (PTC), typically the most expensive of the energy provisions included in “tax extenders” bills.
A credit to help the wind industry could soon be renewed, as lawmakers are expected to take it up this week along with nearly 50 other tax provisions that expired at the end of last year. The tax breaks, ranging from charitable contributions to corporate research, would be extended through 2015 as part of a sweeping proposal released by Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. While the initial draft does not include production tax credits (PTC) for wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and other renewable power sources, a Wyden aide and officials representing the wind industry expected the measure to be included when the committee debates the bill Thursday. The draft included measures that were largely not controversial.