As previously reported, earlier this summer Rep. Boucher (D-VA), Chairman of the House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee, proposed the Carbon Capture and Storage Early Deployment Act (HR 6258), which would create the Carbon Storage Research Corporation and facilitate $1 billion per year in funding for CCS projects. Over the last several weeks, the bill has cleared several potential hurdles, including resolution of a dispute between the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and American Electric Power (AEP) on how to pass along costs associated with CCS to ratepayers under the proposal. NARUC had argued that the proposed pass-through language provided for little to no regulatory oversight of such arrangements. An agreement between the groups, however, gives states two non-voting spots on the board of the corporation and allows regulators to stop the creation of the corporation if 40 percent of NARUC members object to it. It also requires utilities to seek recovery of “prudently incurred costs” associated with the corporation from regulators, giving regulators additional authority to protect consumers from potentially high rates.

Boucher’s proposal gained additional support this week, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi incorporated the bill’s provisions into the Democrats’ overall energy package. Boucher expressed agreement with the incorporation, stating that he did not expect the bill to have come before the House in the next two weeks as a stand-alone proposal and that the incorporation likely increased the bill’s chances of passage this year. As an alternative, Boucher expressed hope that, should the Democrats’ package not survive, the process would nonetheless add visibility to his proposal and increase the likelihood of its emergence as a focal point in 2009.

For a copy of the Boucher bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc110/h6258_ih.xml.