Bioenergy, Wind Power

Long Road for Energy Bill Nearing End?

The U.S. Senate has begun debate on legislation titled The Energy Policy Act of 2003 – the much anticipated energy bill – which contains several provisions for Renewable Energy.

Washington, D.C. – May 12, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Amendments to the extensive bill will begin to reach the floor of the Senate during the middle of this week when the body resumes consideration of the bill, known as S. 14. Republican staff have said they intend to have tax incentive amendments to the energy bill offered at a later time during the overall debate. See links for related news at the close of this story. SolarAccess.com will update this RE Insider daily. Renewable Energy provisions in S. 14: – mandates a federal Renewable Energy resources assessment – reauthorization of the Renewable Energy Production Incentive (REPI) Program – requires the adoption of industry-proposed alternative mandatory conditions for hydroelectric licenses if threshold requirements are met and provides opportunity for industry to initiate formal, trial-like appeals of conditions developed by the resource agencies to protect fisheries and federal and Indian lands – sets goal for federal agencies to purchase 7.5 percent of their power from Renewable Energy sources by 2011 – provides grants for turning forest materials from high-risk areas for fire or disease into biomass energy – provides grants for turning forest materials from high-risk areas for fire or disease on public and Indian lands into biomass energy – authorizes a feasibility study of wind and hydropower potential along the Missouri River – removes the 50 percent cap on biodiesel credits under EPACT and makes such credits bankable and tradeable – authorizes US$1.8 billion for President Bush’s Hydrogen Fuel Cell Initiative – reauthorizes and increases funding for existing research programs into stationary and transportation hydrogen applications – creates demonstration programs to develop hydrogen applications on Indian land, in national parks and international programs – creates a pilot program to craft the full range of technologies required to put hydrogen vehicles on the road in the foreseeable future – amends EPACT to require agencies to purchase 5 percent of new vehicles as hydrogen-powered vehicles in 2006 and 2007, increasing to 20 percent in subsequent years – requires the federal government to offset its total electric energy consumption through the use of fuel cells, increasing to 3 percent total in 2011 – addresses research & development needs in energy efficiency, distributed energy and electric energy systems, renewable energy, nuclear energy, fossil energy, basic science and energy, environment, and management of research programs Proposed Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2003: – extends placed-in-service date for wind, closed-loop biomass and poultry waste facilities and adds open-loop biomass, geothermal energy, solar energy, small irrigation power, municipal bio-solids and recycled sludge as qualifying energy resources. The credit is 1.8 cents per kilowatt hour with no inflation adjustment for facilities placed in service after the date of enactment. The title also will allow for tradeable tax credits for tax-exempt entities. – provides a credit for the purchase of new qualified fuel cell, hybrid, or other alternative fuel motor vehicle – makes several modifications to the rules regarding the small producer ethanol credit and provides a new credit for qualified biodiesel fuel mixtures – provides a new personal tax credit for the purchase of qualified wind energy, photovoltaic, and solar water heating property that is used exclusively for purposes other than heating swimming pools and hot tubs – provides a new 30 percent business energy credit for purchase of qualified fuel cell power plants for businesses. Upon presenting the bill to the Senate, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-NM, chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources called energy “one of the most fundamental underpinnings of the U.S. economy.” He called himself a “strong supporter of solar and renewable energy,” using his support of research dollars as evidence. “But they only represent a niche market – they are not capable of providing base-load power to our cities, hospitals and factories,” Domenici said, adding later, “I am a strong supporter of opening ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.)” (A provision for drilling in the park is not included in the energy bill.) Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, the ranking Democrat on the committee said he voted against the bill in the committee and called for greater Renewable Energy provisions to be included. “We must make a greater push to introduce renewable energy technologies for electricity generation,” Bingaman said. “Some of these technologies, such as wind power, are already cost-competitive. But in order to see widespread exploitation of these opportunities, both financial and regulatory incentives will be needed. That means both a meaningful production tax credit for renewable energy and a flexible renewable portfolio standard for electric utilities. The lack of an effective renewable portfolio standard in this bill is a major flaw.” According to the Congressional Budget Office, implementing the bill would cost about US$3.7 billion in 2004, $40.3 billion over the next five years and $52.6 billion over the next 10 years. Senate Energy Bill : S.14 (PDF) Committee Report Cost Analysis Wind Energy Tax Credit Bills Clear Committees House Energy Bill Potential Solar Windfall