The Obama administration’s plan to use power marketing administrations to upgrade the transmission grid and bolster renewables and cybersecurity is likely to meet stiff opposition from Republicans on a House Natural Resources subcommittee this week. Officials from four federal power administrations, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation are scheduled to testify before the House Water and Power Subcommittee tomorrow about President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request.
The Obama administration announced plans today to use federal power marketing administrations to lead the way in upgrading the transmission grid, bolster renewables and serve as “test beds” for new cybersecurity technologies. Energy Secretary Steven Chu outlined the strategy in a memo on how the organizations can leverage partnerships, rate-making power and financing to upgrade transmission and install new technologies to make the system more reliable, secure and accessible for renewable power generators.
In what has become a weekly ritual, President Obama on Thursday defended his administration’s energy policy, in the face of relentlessly rising gasoline prices, to an American public that believes he can do more to ease the pain at the pump. Mr. Obama cycled through now-familiar themes, promoting his record of increased domestic oil and gas production; stricter fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks; and investments in alternative sources of energy, like biofuels, wind and solar power. The administration’s energy policy has been the focus of many speeches the president has given in recent weeks.
After the Senate rejected a measure this week to extend federal incentives for energy development on a largely party-line vote, a bipartisan group of senators is floating a narrower bill to extend a coveted tax break through the end of 2014.
The legislation proposed yesterday would extend for two years the wind-energy production tax credit, which provides project developers a tax deduction of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. With the credit scheduled to expire Dec. 31, the wind industry has spent several months lobbying for an extension, arguing that the project pipeline will dry up if companies can’t count on the PTC being there next year.
On Thursday, March 8, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced an amendment to a transportation bill (S.1813) that would have extended the production tax credit for the wind energy industry. Renewable energy advocates have said the tax credit is crucial to keep the industry moving and to allow the emergence of an offshore wind industry.
A day after the Senate declined to extend an array of federal incentives for renewable energy development, the Obama administration’s top energy official signaled an openness to eventually eliminating support for some wind energy because it is nearly competitive with conventional generation. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he and other administration officials, including White House energy adviser Heather Zichal, met Tuesday with representatives of the wind industry and other energy sectors on the topic of tax incentives and other subsidies. He said that during the meeting a wind industry official, whom he did not name, expressed a willingness to eventually phase out the production tax credit, even though the industry is aggressively lobbying to have that credit extended beyond its scheduled December expiration.
The Senate voted 74-22 today to clear a two-year bill that would reauthorize U.S. transportation programs in a bipartisan vote, ending months of work and five weeks of floor action.
The Senate on Tuesday rejected plans to extend a host of lapsed or soon-to-expire tax breaks for renewable fuels and power sources.
A critical federal tax credit for Vestas and other wind-power manufacturers was rejected in the Senate on a 49-49 vote Tuesday that split on party lines with Democrats supporting it and Republicans literally turning thumbs down.
Renewable energy supporters said the Senate’s rejection yesterday of a Democratic proposal to extend a host of expiring tax breaks for the wind, solar and bioenergy industries reflects the new “buzz saw partisan politics” currently looming over Congress.