Finance Committee eyes energy credits

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, June 13, 2016

The Senate Finance Committee tomorrow will dive into the always-thorny issue of energy tax credits.

The oversight hearing, titled “Energy Tax Policy in 2016 and Beyond,” comes as lawmakers appear to be gearing up for yet another fight over extending renewable energy incentives.

With the authority of the Federal Aviation Administration set to expire in mid-July, jockeying over extending the investment tax credit for qualifying sources left out of last year’s end-of-year tax deal is already taking place behind the scenes.

Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) last week signaled that he’s open to extending some credits but made clear he’s tired of the constant rush for the so-called extenders.

“I’m open to always try to accommodate, but I’d like to get away from this end-of-the-year big push to get everybody’s select programs,” he said (E&E Daily, June 9).

While some extenders have been made permanent, partisan squabbling over green energy incentives has made it tough in recent years for developers of renewables, efficiency and biofuels credits to win the extensions they covet.

Wholesale changes to the energy tax code are considered unlikely until the conditions for a broader tax overhaul are ripe, but both parties have put out reform proposals in recent years.

For Republicans, many members would like to see the green energy breaks off the books entirely; Democrats feel the same way about oil and gas tax breaks.

However, there’s bipartisan support for one proposal that has repeatedly surfaced in recent years — a bill by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) that would extend master limited partnerships currently limited to oil and gas operations to renewable projects, as well (Greenwire, June 24, 2015).

Additionally, Finance ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) for years has floated a series of proposals to make existing energy tax credits technology-neutral.

Schedule: The hearing is Tuesday, June 14, at 10 a.m. in 215 Dirksen.

Witnesses: Benjamin Zycher, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Steve Miller, CEO of Bulk Handling Systems, Eugene, Ore.; Susan Kennedy, CEO and board member of Advanced Microgrid Solutions, San Francisco; and Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.