Advanced Energy Perspectives

FEDERAL UPDATE: AEE Takes Energy Tax Policy Reform to the Hill

Posted by Malcolm Woolf

Apr 18, 2013 9:57:00 AM

    

advanced energy tax policy reformAEE is taking its message of a pragmatic, business-focused approach to energy tax policy to Capitol Hill and beyond – and it’s resonating. On AEE’s first Congressional fly-in on April 11, top executives from a dozen AEE member companies and eight state partner organizations talked with 32 Members or senior staff of Senate Finance, House Ways & Means, and congressional leadership – all over the course of a single day. 


In those meetings, AEE offered its four core principles for federal energy tax reform. Our proposal was described as a “smart and thoughtful third way” by Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, and praised by Speaker John Boehner's senior staffer. 


Our formal comment letter to the Ways & Means Committee on tax reform also got attention in the press, with AEE characterized as “seeking to chart a middle path toward stable energy tax policy” by Energy & Environment Daily. And AEE Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Malcolm Woolf has been invited to headline a panel discussion on energy and tax policy hosted by Politico Pro. Tune in to the livestream Wednesday, April 24, at 8am ET on politico.com.


On the Hill 


Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) are expected to reintroduce comprehensive energy efficiency legislation today mirroring their bill from last session.  The original bill focused on encouraging industrial energy efficiency through a variety of tax credits, R&D funding, and stricter standards.  This time around, it could also provide a vehicle for President Obama’s $200 million state grant program for efficiency upgrades, a concept introduced in his February State of the Union address and loosely based on the “Race to the Top” program for education.     


Also today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the Department of Energy’s budget for FY 2014.  Daniel Poneman, the department’s Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, will present the budget, signaling that Secretary Steven Chu might be leaving the department before his successor is officially confirmed. 


In the Agencies


The IRS provided much-anticipated clarification on Monday of the qualifications for wind and geothermal projects seeking the Production Tax Credit.  The one-year extension for the credit, secured this past January, provides that projects must have begun construction by December 31 of this year to secure the 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour credit.  The IRS clarified the definition of “under construction,” as the previous standard required a project to be producing energy before the deadline in order to qualify. However, the one-year extension approved by Congress just before the PTC was set to expire last year would have made it nearly impossible for any new project to be completed and grid-connected by the end of this year. Even with the extension, Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects that new wind capacity in 2013 will fall short of the record 13,000 MW installed in 2012.


The House Science Committee’s energy and oversight panels held a joint hearing Tuesday to address the efficiency and effectiveness of federal wind energy incentives.  A March 2013 report from the Government Accountability Office concluded that the government’s 82 wind-related initiatives across 9 agencies had “overlapping characteristics” and in several cases provided “duplicative financial support.” But at the hearing, a GAO official said further research would be needed to determine whether money was wasted or multiple sources of financial support were needed for projects to get off the ground.  


Sally Jewell, former CEO of outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc., was sworn in Friday to replace Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior.  Meanwhile, nominee for EPA administrator Gina McCarthy had a relatively painless confirmation hearing with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, though several Republicans questioned her regarding a commitment to transparency in the wake of the agency’s recent email controversy.  Ernest Moniz, nominee for Energy Secretary, also had an easy trip to the Hill for his confirmation hearing.  His three-hour appearance before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmed his commitment to an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy and seems to have cemented bipartisan support for his confirmation.  


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Topics: Federal Policy Update

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