The House yesterday voted to retroactively renew dozens of lapsed tax breaks through the end of this year, a scenario that renewable energy boosters are resisting because they say it would provide too little time for the production tax credit (PTC) to spur any substantial new activity. Lawmakers from both parties lamented that they were left considering such a meager measure but said the worse move would be failing to do anything to renew the credits before the end of the year. Efforts to craft a more expansive bill fell apart last week following objections from the White House, and Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) effectively dropped his push for an alternative bill last night. The House bill, H.R. 5771, passed 378-46, with 26 Republicans and 20 Democrats dissenting. It is expected to clear the Senate next week.
The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of governors from windy states, also sent a letter to Capitol Hill yesterday urging at least a two-year extension and pointing to benefits in their states from the PTC. With so little time remaining before Congress is set to adjourn next week, PTC supporters face long odds of securing a longer extension before the end of this year. However, if the one-year bill ends up in defeat, it could create additional pressure for Senate Democrats to push for a two-year extension of all the credits in order to prevent complications on this year’s tax filings.
A federal appeals court today dismissed a request by a Midwest electric utility to overturn a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order requiring it to reconnect with a farm that refuses to pay for electricity. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that it does not have authority to review the FERC order at issue in Midland Power Cooperative v. FERC.
A Republican member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission blasted U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan yesterday, warning that the proposal could cost hundreds of billions of dollars and pose complex reliability problems. FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller said his concerns about EPA’s proposal for curbing carbon emissions at existing power plants have only grown in recent months as grid operators and other stakeholders have stepped forward, and questioned whether EPA is looking closely enough at challenges with implementing the proposal.
Thousands of comments poured into U.S. EPA yesterday as states, agencies, industry groups and stakeholders of all kinds raced to meet the agency’s comment deadline on its proposed rule for power-sector carbon emissions. The submissions, which EPA will digest as it works to formulate a final rule, touch on everything from the moral imperative of climate action to the minutiae of combined-cycle gas-fired power plants. But a much blunter message emerged from a number of states yesterday, one that put the often complex analysis of the rule in relatively simple terms.
For now, the House is preparing to move a more modest extenders bill to retroactively renew tax breaks that expired last year through the end of this year. Brady predicted that package would pass the House when it comes to a vote tomorrow, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said the Senate would have no choice but to adopt the one-year extension. Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who will hand the gavel to Hatch in January, said he is not ready to accept the House bill, which he said would be too hard on working-class people. Wyden moved a two-year extenders bill through committee on a bipartisan vote earlier this year, and he has said that he would prefer that approach.
Governors Urge House and Senate Leadership to Extend Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit
“Our states are national leaders in wind power. Today, 26 percent of South Dakota’s power generation comes from wind. In Washington State, developers added 2,800 megawatts of wind energy between 2001-2012… Oregon generates over 12 percent of its electricity from wind… In Iowa, where 27 percent of the state’s electricity generation comes from wind, MidAmerican Energy made the largest capital investment in the state’s history — building a wind farm that will add over $2 billion to Iowa’s economy.” “These achievements are directly attributable to the PTC — a successful federal policy that, along with supportive state policies, continues to drive private investment in our states. [I]n states that produce at least 7 percent of their electricity from wind, electricity prices have decreased over the last 5 years, while all other states have seen their electricity prices increase by nearly 8 percent.”
A group of US state governors is urging Congress to approve a multi-year extension of the production tax credit and investment tax credit as soon as possible. A two-year PTC and ITC renewal is included in the bipartisan Senate EXPIRE Act. “Our states are national leaders in wind power,” said the coalition chairman, vice-chairman and former chairmen in a letter to House and Senate leaders, citing significant gains in South Dakota, Washington, Oregon and Iowa.
A bipartisan foursome of governors yesterday urged lawmakers to pass a two-year extension of the PTC, as in the Senate tax extenders package. “While we recognize there is support in Congress for phasing down these various tax incentives for all sectors in a comprehensive tax reform package, until we do, we must allow the nation’s wind industry to compete with other energy sources that also receive federal support.”
The House is planning to vote this week on a piecemeal bill that would reinstate dozens of expired tax breaks for this year, including those supporting renewable electricity, biofuels and energy efficiency, among others. The bill floated yesterday, H.R. 5771, came after the collapse last week of bipartisan negotiations around a much broader package, which would have included a longer-term phaseout of the production tax credit (PTC), which primarily benefits the wind industry (Greenwire, Nov. 26). But the broader debate over how to wean wind producers off the tax credit is widely expected to return next year, when Republicans will claim a majority in the House and Senate, aides and lobbyists said yesterday.