August 09, 2016, Daily Energy Insider
By Tracy Rozens
The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) is hopeful that lawmakers will work together to approve long-awaited clean energy provisions as part of the Energy Policy Modernization Act before the end of the year.
“I think now that there is the ability to work on it in a conference committee, which happened just before Congress broke for recess, gives us some optimism that there is a path forward to get it done,” BCSE President Lisa Jacobson told Daily Energy Insider in a recent interview.
The House and Senate are expected to work toward a compromise in September, and the BCSE is drafting a letter to Congress that will highlight some of its main priorities.
“There are some energy efficiency provisions in there that we would like to see go through, some hydropower provisions that we would like to see move forward, and things that make it easier for the federal government to invest in clean energy through energy savings performance contracts,” Jacobson said.
The BCSE, an association of the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors, has praised energy efficiency provisions in both the House and Senate bills.
The BCSE is in favor of preserving the Senate-passed Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act, which would increase transparency and accuracy in the home appraisal and mortgage underwriting processes and help finance energy efficient homes. The council is also in favor of provisions aimed at improving infrastructure and the regulatory approval processes for clean energy projects, such as the hydropower licensing improvement.
The Senate version of the bill, approved in April, would push the United States toward cleaner, more efficient, more cost-effective and renewable energy sources. Specific provisions include enhancing energy savings, protecting electric reliability, modernizing the electric grid, and promoting the development of hydropower, geothermal and other resources.
The House passed its energy package in May, which includes its bill from last year.
Tax policy promoting clean energy is another major issue the BCSE is pushing for.
“The other big piece we are hoping to move forward on is some tax extenders that involved energy efficiency and renewable energy and we would like to see those enacted and extended this Congress,” Jacobson said. “They expire at the end of this year.”
The Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act, enacted at the end of 2015, extended incentives for energy efficiency until the end of 2016. Incentives for the non-wind and non-solar technologies that currently access the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, such as biomass, waste energy, hydropower and geothermal, however, will expire at the end of the year if Congress does not take action, Jacobson said.
“There is a lot of unfinished business there,” Jacobson added.
The benefits of energy tax incentives should be provided to all qualifying technologies in accordance with the energy, environmental and other public benefits they generate, the BCSE has said.
The business council is also keeping an eye on appropriations for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, particularly given that the agency’s programs help diversity the nation’s energy portfolio, while investments in energy efficiency support the U.S. economy.
“It hasn’t been resolved how they will address the budget,” Jacobson said, noting that some lawmakers are discussing a short-term continuing resolution, while others have suggested a longer-term resolution or omnibus bill. “There is energy legislation, tax, and appropriations issues that all impact the power sector and clean energy industries and we want to see as much done as we can in the few days that we have.”