Energy bill sails through subcommittee, but tough talks loom

Source: Hannah Northey and Daniel Bush, E&E reporters • Posted: Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee unanimously approved a comprehensive energy bill today, making clear the stripped-down measure will serve as a vehicle for policy riders down the road. In a voice vote, the Energy and Power Subcommittee advanced the legislation that its sponsors say would modernize energy infrastructure, boost energy jobs, and address security, diplomacy, efficiency and accountability.

What’s in, what’s out of sprawling Senate bill

Source: Geof Koss, Hannah Northey and Manuel Quiñones, E&E reporters • Posted: Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Out is New Mexico Democrat Martin Heinrich’s proposal to give FERC backstop authority to approve projects that face state-level delays, as well as Arkansas Republican John Boozman’s bill to limit federal eminent domain authority. Whereas Heinrich is from a state seeking to fast-track long-distance transmission to tap isolated pockets of wind and solar, Arkansas has shown a reluctance to accept the government blessing lines that don’t have state consent.

Continuing slump in oil prices will slow electric vehicle market and biofuel use, experts say

Source: Lisa Friedman, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

But when it comes to low-carbon energy, Levi said, “The oil price drop is not nearly as bad for renewable energy as people imagine at first glance. But that doesn’t mean it’s totally disconnected.” He said the big wild card is if renewable energy policies weaken in the face of dipping prices. “Even if it is unjustified, lower oil prices tend to make people less interested in energy policy in general, and that includes climate policy,” he said.

HP to Power Texas Data Centers With Wind Energy

Source: By DIANE CARDWELL, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

For years, clean energy developers could look to only a small handful of corporations as project partners or customers for their power. Mostly, there was Google, and a few other high-tech companies that worked directly with wind and solar developers to help green their energy use. Now, that appears to be changing. On Tuesday, Hewlett-Packard announced a 12-year contract to buy 112 megawatts from a wind farm that SunEdison is expanding in Texas. That is enough, HP said, to operate its data centers there, the equivalent of powering 42,600 homes each year.

Dozens of Expired Tax Breaks Would Get Renewed Under Bill

Source: By The Associated Press • Posted: Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Businesses big and small would get to keep claiming dozens of tax breaks that expired at the start of the year under a bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday. Struggling homeowners and people who live in states without a state income tax would get to keep their tax breaks, too. The bill would extend more than 50 tax credits, exemptions and deductions through 2016, beyond the upcoming presidential election. It would add $95 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which provides official estimates for Congress.

Extenders advance after PTC foes retreat

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

The Senate Finance Committee voted today to grant a reprieve to an assortment of expired energy tax credits, after wind opponents withdrew amendments targeting the renewable production tax credit. On a 23-3 vote, senators approved the extenders package, which revives 52 on-again, off-again tax breaks for two years. Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) were the lone votes in opposition. Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) opened the markup by urging his colleagues to focus on “relatively noncontroversial changes to recently expired tax provisions and the offsets needed for these changes.”

House in no rush to take up extenders package

Source: Daniel Bush and Geof Koss, E&E reporters • Posted: Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

The Senate panel’s markup yesterday of a two-year extenders package for 52 tax breaks came months earlier than the usual, end-of-year debate over expiring subsidies. Last year, Congress waited until December to pass retroactive extensions of wind and solar tax credits that expired at the end of 2013, passing a retroactive one year extension that expired a few weeks later with the start of the new year. But, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) signaled yesterday that the lower chamber is no hurry to roll out similar legislation, citing the House Republican caucus’ desire to advance a bill that includes permanent tax extensions.

Floodgates open on extenders amendments

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Members of the Senate Finance Committee have filed dozens of amendments to the extenders package that the panel will mark up this morning, including a bevy of proposals that would expand clean energy incentives. Not surprisingly, at least a half-dozen of the more than 100 amendments filed yesterday address the renewable production tax credit, which would be extended for two years under the committee’s base bill. While the majority of the amendments are unlikely to receive votes in committee, the markup will provide an opportunity for sponsors to test the waters for their proposals.

Judge Dismisses Novel Oklahoma Suit Seeking To Block Proposed ESPS

Source: By Lee Logan, Inside EPA • Posted: Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Rejecting Oklahoma’s aggressive calls for action, a federal judge has dismissed the state’s novel suit seeking an injunction blocking EPA from finalizing or implementing its greenhouse gas (GHG) rule for existing power plants, ruling that the state has not outlined any “exceptional circumstances” for why the court has jurisdiction to review the proposed GHG rule. In a July 17 ruling, Judge Claire Eagan of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma says that the state has not shown the court has jurisdiction to review the proposed rule and that plaintiffs will be able to make their case once EPA promulgates a final rule in the coming weeks.

Australian prime minister under fire for ordering bank to stop backing wind, solar

Source: By New Scientist • Posted: Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ordered the Clean Energy Finance Corp., which funds renewable energy operations in the country, not to invest in wind and small-scale solar energy efforts. The action is the latest in a slew of measures initiated by Abbott — the leader of the conservative Liberal Party — that have sparked criticism that he is undoing the country’s progress on curtailing emissions. Australia’s per-capita carbon emissions in 2013 were among the highest in the world.