Bioenergy, Hydropower

Hydrogen, PTC Focus of Bills from Sen. Dorgan

U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan plans to introduce energy legislation intended to promote the development of renewable energy and hydrogen fuel cell technology. Dorgan, who made the announcement during the 2005 conference for Renewable Energy in the Upper Midwest, said the bills are meant to boost new research, spur economic growth, and work toward American energy independence.

One of the bills would provide a five-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC) for facilities that generate electricity from renewable energy sources, and also encourages additional development of renewable energy by allowing tax-exempt rural cooperatives, municipal utilities, and others to benefit from the credit. “The renewable energy production tax credit has been a big boost to getting new energy technologies off the ground in North Dakota and across rural America,” Dorgan said. “Extending the credit for five years will give investors and developers the certainty they need to move forward with major projects and make big breakthroughs in renewable energy technology.” Current law provides a 1.8 cent-per-kWh credit for facilities that produce electricity from wind, closed-loop biomass and animal waste, as well as from geothermal and solar projects. A smaller credit is available for electricity produced from open-loop biomass, small irrigation power and municipal solid waste. These credits are scheduled to expire at the end of 2005. The hydrogen energy technology bill introduced by Dorgan would invest $8 billion in hydrogen research and development in the next decade. He said the Energy and Environment Research Center (EERC) , which is already a national leader in hydrogen energy research, could continue its role under the new initiative. “America needs an ‘Apollo Project’ for hydrogen fuel-cell technology, and this bill will get it started.” Dorgan said. “We need to prepare now and make hydrogen power a real part of our energy picture. The EERC, with its proven record of world-class hydrogen research, is a natural site for much of the work ahead that could change the way we look at energy — creating new industries and thousands of new jobs, and spurring a new generation of advanced energy technology.”