Tax reform, Non-hydro renewables status, McCarthy confirmed, ACORE’s interim CEO

Congress is talking about tax reform, and renewables will be affected. In leadership news, McCarthy takes on her new gig at EPA, and Brower sits in to lead the ACORE group.

Tax Reform Building Steam in Senate
Renewables Leaders Provide Statement for Hearing on Energy Tax Reform
Non-Hydro Renewables Generation Drawing Even with Conventional Hydro
Gina McCarthy Heads Up EPA
ACORE Announces Interim CEO Michael Brower

Tax Reform Building Steam in Congress
The Senate Finance Committee will mark up comprehensive tax reform legislation this fall, legislators said this week. This would be the first overhaul of the tax system since 1986. “If we could agree at the outset that the purpose of tax reform is not to grow the government but to have a more competitive country in the global economy, I’d be all for it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was quoted in press.

The Finance panel is led by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The Senators have stressed tax expenditures and other provisions should help grow the economy, make the tax code fairer, or effectively promote other important policy objectives.

A letter signed by Senators Jeffrey Merkley, Edward Markey, Brian Schatz, Angus King Jr, Tim Johnson, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Udall, and Tammy Baldwin and addressed to Baucus and Hatch offers “strong support for tax incentives that will grow America’s clean energy sector.” The letter supports legislation that achieves goals to (1) Increase investment in clean energy; (2) Provide long-term policy certainty; (3) Create parity across clean energy technologies, while still accommodating diverse needs; and (4) Expand access to low-cost private capital.

In the House, a letter written by Reps. Raul Ruiz, Earl Blumenauer, and Jon Runyan urges support for renewable energy in tax reform. “Maintaining policies in the tax code that promote investment in and deployment of renewable energy technologies will help ensure that the American consumer continues to benefit from renewable energy innovations while also reaping the benefits of a diverse energy economy,” it reads. The letter is addressed to Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin. Thehill.com; Geo-energy.org

Renewables Leaders Provide Statement for Hearing on Energy Tax Reform
A Senate Finance hearing on July 31 targeted principles for energy tax reform, drawing leaders of 10 renewables associations to join in a statement for the record (given in full below). The Senate Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure’s hearing was titled “Powering our Future: Principles for Energy Tax Reform.” The subcommittee is chaired by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

This renewables statement is signed by leaders of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Offshore Wind Development Coalition, Geothermal Energy Association, Alliance for Industrial Efficiency, American Biogas Council, American Wind Energy Association, Energy Recovery Council, National Hydropower Association, Biomass Power Association, and Distributed Wind Energy Association:

Dear Madam Chairwoman:

On behalf of our thousands of member companies and more than half a million Americans working in our industries, we urge the Congress to extend the production tax credit (PTC) and the investment tax credit (ITC) [in Sections 45, 48 and 25D of the Internal Revenue Code], with a commence construction eligibility standard for both tax credits. Moreover, under any given tax incentive structure, there should be parity in the tax code between technologies. This would mean updating the tax code to ensure that technologies receive comparable incentives rates and equal accessibility within any given tax incentive structure.

Access to a diverse, abundant, reliable and affordable supply of energy is inarguably in the national interest. Over the last century, federal policies have provided a legislative and regulatory framework that have helped every major source of energy utilized in the U.S. reach commercial scale. Well-crafted tax incentives have played, and should continue to play, a vital role in developing new domestic energy resources, contributing significantly to America’s longterm economic prosperity and growth.

Over the past five years, more than 35% of all new domestic power generation has come from renewable energy resources, including more than 49% of all new power generation in 2012 – surpassing all other energy sources. The production tax credit and the investment tax credit have been the primary policy drivers for this growth, spurring private sector investment, creating jobs, and driving down costs significantly, making renewable and clean technologies more cost competitive.

The clean energy sector has the potential to be one of the greatest engines of middle class job growth in the 21st century, while providing our nation with secure sources of clean and renewable domestic energy. To realize that objective, however, we must have a supportive and certain tax policy environment. Renewable tax incentives help make the tax code fairer, aid in our national and energy security and have promoted job and economic growth across the country.

Our trade associations, which represent a broad portfolio of clean and renewable energy technologies, urge the Congress to maintain long-term tax incentives that will continue to encourage the growth of clean and renewable domestic energy resources in the United States.

Non-Hydro Renewables Generation Drawing Even with Conventional Hydro
By Sustainable Energy Coalition/SUN DAY Campaign, source: U.S. Energy Information Administration — According to EIA’s latest “Electric Power Monthly” report, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for 14.3% of net electrical generation during the first five months of 2013. Furthermore, non-hydro renewables (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind) have now drawn almost even with conventional hydropower in the amount of electricity generated: 48.1% vs. 51.9%). A decade ago (i.e., calendar year 2003), hydropower accounted for 77.6% of the electricity generated by renewable energy sources (and all renewable sources combined then accounted for 9.1% of net electrical generation). By calendar year 2012, renewable sources had expanded to account for 12.2% of net electrical generation with hydropower contributing a 55.8% share. For the first five months of 2013, non-hydro renewables have expanded by 15.4% compared to the same period in 2012 while hydropower’s output dropped by 3.8%. For the same periods, the electricity generated by natural gas and nuclear power fell by 13.4% and 0.1% respectively while that from coal increased by 11.4%.

Gina McCarthy Heads Up EPA
On July 18, Senators voted 59-40 to confirm Gina McCarthy as the new Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She has been Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation since being appointed by President Obama in 2009 and has worked on environmental issues on state and local levels for over 30 years. Obama has said that in the absence of action by Congress, he will use the executive authority of the EPA to push climate-change regulations. A Time article called McCarthy’s new position “the Toughest Job in D.C.” See also Epa.govNationaljournal.com

ACORE Announces Interim CEO Michael Brower
The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE)’s outgoing President and CEO, Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, was nominated by President Obama for the position as the next Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment. ACORE is now on a search for a new President and CEO. In the meantime, ACORE has announced that Michael R. Brower will step in to lead the organization during the interim. Brower is Mosaic Federal Affairs’ Senior Federal Policy Director and Principal and ACORE Board of Directors member.

Brower has been involved in the geothermal industry and attended an event of the Geothermal Energy Association in Washington DC this past February. He was then Senior Federal Representative representing Energy Source LLC and also submitted a statement for EnergySource on the Production Tax Credit to the House of Representatives Committee on Ways & Means; see Waysandmeans.house.gov (PDF)

“Geothermal power is different than other renewable energy technologies,” Brower wrote in the statement. “Geothermal plants deliver “base load” electricity at very high plant capacity factor averaging 95%. As such, they are the best renewable energy solution available to replace aging coal and nuclear power plants.” Acore.org

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