White House science adviser John Holdren’s comment Monday that it was “unrealistic” to halt fossil fuel extraction altogether in the U.S. may have seemed like stating the obvious. But it has further highlighted the tensions that exist even among top American policy makers and environmental advocates concerned about curbing the rate of climate change.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced legislation yesterday that would allow energy storage systems to get investment tax credits similar to those available for solar power. The “Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act,” S. 3159, covers both grid-connected systems and smaller battery systems for households and businesses. The bill would let commercial storage systems receive the same tax incentive currently available for solar energy under Section 48 of the IRS code. That includes all types of storage technologies, including batteries and pumped hydropower, as long as their storage capacity is at least 5 kilowatt-hours. The language is similar to a House bill introduced in May from Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.)
Energy storage would gain access to the same tax incentives that helped make renewable energy the biggest new source of electricity in the U.S. last year under a bill introduced in the Senate.
Batteries like the lithium-ion ones in phones and electric vehicles would be eligible for the tax incentives when connected to the utility grid at homes and businesses under a bill introduced Tuesday by Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich from New Mexico. The bill has eight co-sponsors including Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, according to a statement.
The global offshore wind energy market is growing rapidly, and at the end of 2015 was reported to have reached 12 GW — with several more GW in the pipeline. Europe unsurprisingly leads the way, with the European Wind Energy Association claiming it makes up the lion’s share of all global offshore wind capacity. What continues to baffles many analysts, however, is the lack of development across the pond in the United States.
State leaders hope Kansas will be known for more than just its wheat crop. “Kansas is not only the Wheat State; it is the renewables state,” said Gov. Sam Brownback. “It is my goal that by the time I leave office in 2018, 50 percent of our energy will come from renewable resources.” The state is one step closer to that goal with the construction of the new Kingman Wind Energy Center. The center is a collaboration between Westar Energy and NextEra Energy Resources.
The Senate voted 89-4 to extend Federal Aviation Administration programs through September 2017, sending the measure to the White House for enactment just two days before the agency’s authorization expired. Democrats had hoped to use the measure to fix what they call an error that occurred in last year’s year-end omnibus tax package, which extended the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar for five years but left out other qualifying sources, including geothermal, fuel cells, and combined heat and power facilities.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) lambasted wind turbines “taller than the Statue of Liberty” on the Senate floor yesterday when introducing legislation to boost energy research by phasing out renewable energy tax credits. The bill would end the production tax credit for wind by Jan. 1 and send the money to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Last year’s bipartisan tax deal would phase out the credits in 2019. Terminating the subsidy earlier, said Alexander, would boost the Office of Science budget by $8.1 billion over several years. In contrast, DOE basic science spending this year is under $2 billion.
The top two senators who will lead energy negotiations with the House signaled yesterday they plan to make up for lost time after overcoming weeks of hesitation that delayed the formal conference process. Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said they were ready to dig into the substance of the chambers’ competing bills, after lengthy talks over the conference process resulted in a 84-3 vote to formally launch talks
The Obama administration’s climate rule for power plants could result in markedly less coal production in top-producing regions compared to business as usual, a recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration has found. U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. If the rule takes effect in 2022, EIA projects coal’s continued decline will be felt most acutely in the U.S. West.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) intend to file concurrent resolutions today accusing fossil fuel companies of using “a sophisticated and deceitful campaign” to erode public understanding of climate change and protect the companies’ business models. Lieu and Whitehouse are among the most vocal critics of fossil fuel companies, and their sister resolutions would codify that frustration.