Friday, March 04, 2005

Federal Renewable Energy Legislation - and a Great New Way to Track It

Some of the major pieces of federal legislation related to renewable energy that we're tracking this session include:
  • H.R. 622: Calls for reauthorization and revision of the Renewable Energy Production Incentive (REPI) program. The REPI offers incentives of 1.5 cent per kW/hr to energy production facilities such as municipal and non-profit co-ops for use of renewable sources. The REPI is currently the only incentive available to these local, non-profit energy generators, and it's due to expire in October of this year. The bill proposes to extend the REPI for 20 years. It was introduced by Rep. Mary Bono (D-CA 45) on February 8, 2005, and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
  • H.R. 983 & S.427: Both bills call for amendment of title VI of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to establish a Federal renewable energy portfolio standard for certain retail electric utilities. The bills suggest slightly different required annual percentages of renewable energy generation over the next several decades. H.R. 983 starts with 1% in 2008 and increases in 1% increments to 20% by 2027; S.427 calls for 5% between 2006-2009, 10% between 2010-2014, 15% between 2015-2019, and 20% after 2020. Unfortunately, there's not much hope for progress on either of these bills this session.
  • Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) recently announced that he would introduce two new bills. The first will provide a five-year extension of the soon-to-expire PTC for facilities that generate electricity from renewable energy sources. The bill will also encourage additional development of renewable energy by allowing tax-exempt rural cooperatives, municipal utilities, and others to benefit from the credit. The second will call for an $8 billion investment in hydrogen research and development in the next decade. These bills haven't been introduced yet - we'll let you know when they are.
Everyone knows that Thomas.gov is an excellent way to get up-to-date information on bills and bill activity - but it's a little behind the times as far as web technology goes. There's just no easy way to get information without going to the site to regularly check particular items.

We've recently come across a great new service from Govtrack that solves the problem. Not only can you search current legislation by topic or keyword, but when you locate a piece of legislation you'd like to follow, you can quickly set up an RSS feed to send you updates on the bill's progress. For those who use newsreaders, such as bloglines, to monitor websites and blogs, Govtrack provides an effortless way to also keep tabs on current legislation. You can track actions by particular representatives or committees too. And it's free. Very cool - check it out when you have a chance.

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