Thursday, April 19, 2012

Renewable Energy Law News - Week of April 16

Photo via Flickr
Vermont is Helping to Lead the Nation in Transforming Our Energy System

We come from Vermont. We know our small state cannot reverse global warming on our own, but we can provide a model for America which helps lead our nation and the world to a more sustainable and secure energy future. 

We see three major imperatives. 

First, we must act to reverse global warming. The scientific consensus is clear that global warming is real, that it is caused by human activities and that it will only get worse if we do not take bold efforts now. At a time when many members of Congress do not even acknowledge that global warming is happening, in Vermont we are taking action. Vermont has more than 100 grassroots citizen-led town energy committees that are working with state agencies to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and such clean sources of sustainable energy as solar, geothermal, biomass and wind. 

 Refundable Federal Tax Credit Could Remove Barrier to Community Wind

Since it will take a battle to extend federal tax credits for wind power anyway, why not make community wind development easier at the same time?

Last month, President Obama’s Treasury Department released proposed reforms to a number of business taxes including the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power projects. The reform proposal would make the tax credit permanent, but more importantly, it would make it refundable.

A regular tax credit reduces the amount of taxes a business or person pays dollar for dollar, down to zero. In the case of the PTC, it provides 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour produced by the wind power project, over 10 years. But for the many individuals and businesses that don’t owe a lot of taxes, they have limited use. That’s why there’s an entire “tax equity industry” made up of large banks and Wall Street firms that partner with wind and solar developers to reduce their tax bills. The drawback of these partnerships is that as much as half of the tax credit’s value is consumed by the Wall Street firms and not the renewable energy project.

Virginia governor to add signature to energy bills

RICHMOND, Va. - Gov. Bob McDonnell is promoting legislation that he says will help Virginia become the "energy capital of the East Coast."

McDonnell added his signature Tuesday to 13 pieces of energy-related legislation. The legislation promotes development of the state's energy resources and supports alternative and renewable energy strategies, according to the governor's office.

McDonnell has promoted an "all-of-the-above" approach to energy development. That includes fossil fuel development such as coal and renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power.

In a news release following the signing, McDonnell said that the state must work with must work with industry and stakeholder groups to continue to aggressively work to harness the resources to provide affordable and reliable energy for homes and businesses.

Florida energy bill that affects south Lee Algenol's expansion becomes law

TALLAHASSEE - In a political squeeze because of a bill that includes tax breaks for renewable-energy production, Gov. Rick Scott late Friday allowed the controversial measure to become law without his signature.

Scott's decision could anger tea party members and some conservative groups that placed heavy pressure on him to veto the bill (HB 7117). But it effectively gives a victory to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and lawmakers who say the state needs to take steps toward developing renewable fuels.

It could also prevent a Southwest Florida company from expanding.

Algenol Biofuels Inc. wants to make ethanol from algae at its commercial farm in south Lee County, the first such enterprise in Florida. But at the state level, the concern is that the algae, if it escapes during a storm, for example, could pose an environmental threat.

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