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.
Touting wind energy as an important economic boon in their states, a bipartisan group of governors yesterday asked congressional leaders to renew the production tax credit (PTC) for the renewable energy technology. The PTC, which provides a 2.3-cent-per-kilowatt-hour subsidy to wind farms that began service or started meaningful development by the end of 2013, expired in December. But the wind industry and state leaders are lobbying to revive the credit program, arguing in a letter to Congress that the industry still depends on the PTC for survival. “If gas prices weren’t so cheap, I’d say that wind might be able to survive without the production tax credit, but I think it’s important that we not lose this industry even as we’re on the brink of it being able to stand alone without any support,” South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) said on a call with reporters yesterday organized by the American Wind Energy Association.
The president’s “all of the above” energy strategy may embrace conventional fossil fuels along with renewables, but in the future, they are all going to have to fit within a smaller greenhouse gas footprint, according to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “It all starts with a commitment to low carbon,” he said, speaking Friday at the American Council on Renewable Energy’s (ACORE) forum on renewable energy policy. “We need to make sure that all of our resources can compete in a low-carbon future.”
The Senate Finance Committee’s effort to reinstate a variety of business tax breaks is being delayed as panel members continue to grapple with the details of legislation they hope to soon consider.
Kitzhaber was chairman of the Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition last year, which includes 23 states. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will chair the coalition next year. Margi Hoffman, a policy advisor for Kitzhaber, says the wind industry has invested some $9 billion in Oregon, though the state’s wind energy boom has cooled off in the last two years. That has less to do with the tax credit than new rules limiting the import of renewable energy into California to satisfy that state’s green energy mandates. Oregon and Washington utilities are still investing in new wind projects, though their pace has slowed too as they get closer to meeting initial targets under their respective states’ renewable portfolio standards.
A bipartisan group of governors is calling on congressional leaders to pass a multi-year extension of tax credits for the wind energy industry. In a letter sent to Congress on Monday, governors from four states urged lawmakers to extend the production tax credit after letting it expire at the end of last year. “Thousands of jobs were lost, as were substantial new investments and local payments,” the letter state
The second bill extends the deadline for putting in place a renewable energy facility in order to qualify for the state’s existing energy generation tax credit. The tax credit is equal to 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour of generated electricity. The bill extends the current deadline of Jan. 1, 2015 by two years, making facilities placed in service before Jan. 1, 2017 eligible for the tax credit.
March winds brought a new wind power record to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region Wednesday evening, March 26, when instantaneous output reached a record 10,296 megawatts (MW) at 8:48 p.m. At the time the new record was set, wind generation was providing nearly 29 percent of the 35,768 MW of electricity being used on the ERCOT grid. The new record beats the previous record set earlier this month by more than 600 MW, and the American Wind Energy Association reports it was a record for any U.S. power system.
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today promised renewable energy advocates that the Obama administration’s climate rules would help grow the clean energy industry.
“Know that you have a friend at this podium,” McCarthy told a meeting of the American Council on Renewable Energy on Capitol Hill. “The energy issues and the environmental issues are really two sides of the same coin,” she said. “If there’s one message … it is that the president’s Climate Action Plan is designed to complement clean energy development and its deployment.”