Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Project Development, Solar, Wind Power

Energy Bill Update: Senate May Revise Renewable Energy Provisions

Last Friday, the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the Energy Bill, allowing Senators who oppose some of the renewable energy provisions to filibuster the legislation. The Senate is expected to bring a revised Bill to the floor sometime this week.

At issue is the $13 billion in tax incentives taken from the oil and natural gas industries and given to the renewable energy industries. Because the Democrats have pledged a “pay as you go” approach to crafting legislation, they argue that it is necessary to take tax incentives from the well-established fossil energy industries to give to the relatively nascent renewable energy industries.

There are also concerns from Senators about the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), which would require utilities to get 15% of their electricity from renewable resources by 2020. Some politicians and lobbyists say that a RES will raise electricity prices and put an unfair burden on utilities. But as the cost of conventional sources of energy continues to rise, industry advocates argue that increased reliance on renewables will lower retail electricity rates for consumers in the coming years.

“At a time when the country is buffeted by growing demand for electricity, higher energy costs, and climate change and energy security concerns, a cornerstone of any energy bill should be to promote renewable energy,” said Randall Swisher, Executive Director of the American Wind Energy Association. “The Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and the extension of clean energy tax incentives that are included in the House Bill should therefore also be included in the final Senate Bill.”

A Senate vote on the Energy Bill is expected sometime this week. However, it is unclear if the Bill will include all of the renewable energy provisions that were in the House version that passed last week.