Utility Renewable Energy Tax Credit Legislation

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) are leading a bipartisan proposal to create a tax incentive for utilities to increase their investment in wind and solar power. The measure (S. 1899) would provide a consumer renewable credit, based on a utility's investment in renewable energy production and its renewable portfolio, or its share of total production from renewable sources. The credit would start at 0.1 cents/KWh of renewable energy produced for utilities with a renewable portfolio of 6 to 8 percent, and range up to 0.6 cents/KWh for utilities with a renewable portfolio of more than 24 percent. The measure will match efforts by 37 states that have mandatory standards or voluntary goals for renewable portfolios. Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Ron Kind (D-IN) have offered a similar House proposal (H.R. 3838).

RFS Modification Urged

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) led 30 of his colleagues in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy January 22 charging that the agency’s proposal to decrease the amount of renewable fuel required by the renewable fuel standard is a step back. In November, the agency proposed a first-time 3 billion gallon reduction in the amount of renewable fuel that refiners are required to blend into the motor fuel supply in 2014. A group of representatives, led by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) sent a letter January 16 calling on the agency to finalize a mandate that sets volumes based on production in order to protect farmers and promote domestic energy production. Seven Midwestern House Democrats are also seeking a meeting with the White House to discuss the proposed requirements. Thirty senators led by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) sent a letter to Administrator McCarthy January 27 asking the agency to reverse course on their proposal.

PTC Extension Urged

The Advanced Energy Economy sent a letter signed by more than 60 businesses and other groups January 23 to Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) urging them to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and other energy tax credits that expired at the end of 2013.

Keystone Decision Sought

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) led the entire Senate Republican caucus in sending a letter to President Obama January 24 asking him to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline soon. The Department of State is expected to complete its environmental review within weeks.

Upcoming Hearings

  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider the bipartisan Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 on January 28.
  • Two days later, the committee will hold a hearing to explore the opportunities and challenges associated with lifting the ban on U.S. crude oil exports.
  • On January 28, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up Representative Ed Whitfield’s (R-KY) H.R. 3826, which would delay the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants until carbon capture and storage technologies are commercially demonstrated at six different sites for at least a year. The committee will also vote on a building energy efficiency bill (H.R. 2126) from Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT).
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will host all five Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners January 29 at a hearing on the implementation of the Fukushima near-term task force recommendations and other safety issues.