Energy Legislation Moves in Congress

PTCThe US Congress is moving forward with three separate pieces of energy legislation.

Rather than waiting for an end-of-the-year panic move, the US Senate Finance Committee cleared tax extenders legislation that, if passed by Congress, would extend and expand the Section 179D tax deduction for energy-efficient commercial buildings, the Production Tax Credit and the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit. If passed, the tax deductions would be extended to expire on December 31, 2016.

Also, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee released a draft energy bill – the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 – which incorporates a section on energy efficiency. The provisions in this section include agreements on everything from longer-term utility energy service contracts to the reauthorization of the weatherization and state energy programs. There is a provision to assist states and voluntary code organizations to improve building energy codes, according to a blog posting by Steven Nadel , Executive Director of The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Finally, the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee also approved an energy bill, which includes some energy efficiency provisions. Those provisions relate to energy-saving information technologies, energy-efficient data centers, coordination of energy retrofitting assistance for schools and reauthorization of the Industrial Assessment Center program that are also in the Senate bill. In addition, the House bill includes is a provision that is not in the Senate bill to add information to appliance Energy Guide labels for products that have smart grid capabilities, according to ACEEE’s blog.

“Despite all the activity this week, the path to law for the energy bills is uncertain,” writes ACEEE’s Nadel. “In both the House and Senate there is a risk that partisan amendments to the bills on efficiency or other issues will endanger their support, or that the bills will simply get lost amidst other issues.”

Photo of wind turbine via Shutterstock.

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