Shaheen & Hassan Join Bipartisan Push to Support Renewable Energy & New Hampshire’s Forest Products IndustryApril 21, 2021
**Bipartisan legislation incentivizes the use of energy efficient biomass heaters for residential and commercial installations**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) helped reintroduce bipartisan legislation that would incentivize the use of energy efficient biomass heaters in homes and businesses instead of relying on fossil fuel energy. The updated Biomass Thermal Utilization (BTU) Act would amend the federal tax code to incentivize the use of energy efficient wood boilers, stoves and heaters through tax credits for capital costs incurred in commercial and industrial installations. The bill will also extend the residential credit passed last year through 2028.
“As we pursue meaningful action to combat the effects of climate change, it’s imperative that our response plan prioritizes ways to improve energy efficiency and utilize home-grown renewable energy. Transitioning away from fossil fuels toward energy efficient biomass heaters to warm our homes and businesses is a common sense way to make that happen,” said Shaheen. “This bill ensures biomass thermal energy technologies are taxed the same as other forms of renewable energy, removing cost barriers and supporting our forest industry. This is particularly important for New Hampshire’s North Country. I’ll always work in the Senate to find innovative ways to use our natural resources to meet our energy needs and support our local economies.”
“Expanding the use of biomass heaters will help support New Hampshire’s renewable fuel industry, while also moving our country closer toward becoming energy independent,” Senator Hassan said. “I am glad to introduce this bipartisan bill to help encourage homes and businesses across New Hampshire to become less dependent on fossil fuels.”
Many other forms of renewable or efficient energy have been eligible for tax credits for a number of years, and the Biomass Thermal Utilization (BTU) Act seeks to achieve parity between those systems and thermal biomass systems. By offering these incentives, the legislation would encourage people and businesses to upgrade away from oil boilers to efficient wood-pellet boilers.
Specifically, the BTU Act would:
- Underscore that heat from biomass is an underutilized energy source in the United States.
- Add biomass fuel property to the list of existing technologies that qualify for the business investment tax credit (IRC section 48) at an initial rate of 30 percent before expiring at the end of 2028. To qualify, the biomass fuel property must operate at a thermal efficiency rate of at least 75 percent and be used to either heat space within the dwelling or heat water.
- Restore the existing residential renewable energy investment tax credit for residential wood heating systems (IRC section 25) to 30 percent, and extend it through 2028.
Senator Shaheen has long advocated for America’s forests and initiatives that would survey and repurpose biomass for clean energy initiatives. In the funding bill for fiscal year 2021, Shaheen secured $5 million for the USDA Agriculture’s Community Wood Energy Program (CWEP), a competitive grant program that aims to assist with the costs of installing high-efficiency, biomass-fueled energy systems. Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) – the Community Wood Energy Innovation Act – was included in the Farm bill signed into law in 2018. Their bipartisan bill expands eligibility for CWEP, incentivizes investments in energy-efficient wood energy systems and supports facilities that repurpose low-grade, low-value wood that would otherwise be sent to landfills.
Shaheen recently reintroduced the Forest Incentives Program Act with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to help landowners make forest management more affordable and provide them with sustainable options to preserve their land. She also reintroduced bipartisan legislation with Senator John Thune (R-SD) requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on languishing applications under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), including moving forward with allowing renewable electricity made from biomass to qualify if it is used to power electric vehicles. This would level the playing field among fuel sources, and enable biomass power plants to generate and sell credits under the RFS program to refiners that must meet national renewable fuel targets.
Senator Hassan is working to reduce carbon emissions, and recently led her colleagues in reintroducing bipartisan legislation to support and expand programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a collaborative effort across states including New Hampshire that uses market-based tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. Senators Hassan and Shaheen also worked to pass into law bipartisan legislation to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provide mandatory funding for deferred maintenance on public lands. The Land and Water Conservation Fund helps preserve and maintain critical lands for national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and recreational areas in New Hampshire and across the country.
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