Grassley Unveils Package to Extend Wind, Biomass, Other Renewable Energy Tax Incentives
Sen. Chuck Grassley today unveiled and introduced bipartisan legislation to extend alternative energy tax incentives, including those for wind energy, ethanol, and biomass. Grassley announced the package as ranking member of the Committee on Finance, with exclusive Senate jurisdiction over tax policy, along with the committee chairman.
"This energy tax package builds on the groundwork laid by the Senate tax-writing committee to establish the vibrant alternative and renewable energy industry we have today," Grassley said. "It takes those incentives to the next level in order to meet the need for a more stable and sustainable energy supply in America. This bill doesn't go backward on wind energy, like the House is trying to do again this year. It pushes forward on solar, biofuels, carbon sequestration technology and ethanol initiatives. It comes from the committee with jurisdiction over tax policy and a history of passing alternative energy incentives. It also reflects the principle that tax-related offsets should be used for tax relief, not more spending. This package ought to be part of a balanced Senate energy plan that works for consumers and includes more domestic production of oil."
Key provisions in the Energy Independence and Investment Act of 2008 include:
Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit: The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) was established in the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, at a level of 51¢ per gallon. Per the 2008 farm bill, starting the year after which 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol are produced and/or imported in the United States, the value of the credit is reduced to 45¢ per gallon. VEETC is currently authorized through December 31, 2010. This bill extends VEETC, including the 10¢/gallon small producer credit, through 12/31/2011.
Extension and Modification of Ethanol, Other Alternative Fuels Credit. The bill extends the alternative fuel excise tax credit - including ethanol - under Section 6426 of the code through December 31, 2011, for all fuels except for hydrogen (which maintains its current-law expiration date of September 30, 2014). Upon date of enactment, for liquid fuel derived from coal through the Fischer-Tropsch process ("coal-to-liquids"), to qualify as an alterative fuel, the fuel must be produced at a facility that separates and sequesters at least 50% of its CO2 emissions. The sequestration requirement increases to 75% on December 31, 2011. This 75% standard may be implemented prior to December 31, 2011, subject to certification of feasibility. The proposal further provides that biomass gas versions of liquefied petroleum gas and liquefied or compressed natural gas, and aviation fuels qualify for the credit.
Long-term Extension and Modification of Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit, Including Wind Energy. The bill extends the placed-in-service date for the Section 45 renewable energy credit, through December 31, 2011. The provision includes wind and expands the types of facilities qualifying for the credit to new biomass facilities and those that generate electricity from marine renewables (e.g., waves and tides). The bill updates the definition of an open-loop biomass facility, the definition of a trash combustion facility, and the definition of a non-hydroelectric dam. The bill also extends the refined coal credit, while removing the market value test and increasing coal emissions standards.
Grassley authored the Wind Energy Incentives Act of 1993, which established the first-ever wind energy production tax credit, and has worked ever since to continue the tax credit without interruption to foster the ever-growing wind energy industry.
Expansion of Allowance for Property to Produce Cellulosic Alcohol. Under current law, taxpayers are allowed to immediately write off 50% of the cost of facilities that produce cellulosic ethanol if such facilities are placed in service before January 1, 2013. The bill makes this benefit available for the production of other cellulosic biofuels in addition to cellulosic ethanol.
Extension of Biodiesel Production Tax Credit; Extension and Modification of Renewable Diesel Tax Credit. The bill extends for three years (through December 31, 2011) the $1.00 per gallon production tax credits for biodiesel and the small biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon. The bill also extends for three years (through December 31, 2011) the $1.00 per gallon production tax credit for diesel fuel created from biomass. The bill eliminates the current-law disparity in credit for biodiesel and agri-biodiesel and eliminates the requirement that renewable diesel fuel must be produced using a thermal depolymerization process. As a result, the credit will be available for any diesel fuel created from biomass without regard to the process used so long as the fuel is usable as home heating oil, as a fuel in vehicles, or as aviation jet fuel. The bill caps the $1 per gallon production credit for renewable diesel for facilities that co-process with petroleum to the first 60 million gallons per facility. Biodiesel that is imported and sold for export will not be eligible for the credit effective May 15, 2008.
New Clean Renewable Energy Bonds ("CREBs"). The bill authorizes $2 billion of new clean renewable energy bonds to finance facilities that generate electricity from wind, closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, geothermal, small irrigation, qualified hydropower, landfill gas, marine renewable and trash combustion facilities. This $2 billion authorization is subdivided into thirds: 1/3 for qualifying projects of state/local/tribal governments; 1/3 for qualifying projects of public power providers; and 1/3 for qualifying projects of electric cooperatives. The bill also provides an additional year for current allocations to issue bonds.