Energy Legislation Outlook in “Lame Duck” Session of Congress

November 23rd, 2010 - Posted by RESNET under Hot Topics, Legislation, RESNET Notes - November 2010

Congress has convened for a “lame duck” post election session.  The lame duck session represents the last chance for Democrats to enact legislation before the new Congress goes into session with the Republican majority in the House and reduced Democratic Senators.

The opportunity to have major legislation passed in the lame duck session is very limited.  The key items that Congress must face are approving a budget for the federal government and addressing the expiring Bush Administration tax cuts.  With increased Republic power in January, it is also not clear which incentives Republicans would have for enacting major legislation before the new Congress.

A move, however, is expected to enact at least some energy related legislation before the next Congress.  The key initiatives being discussed includes:

  • Energy Tax Incentives – The homeowners tax credit for improving the energy efficiency of homes is set to expire on December 31, 2010 and the new energy efficient homes tax credit expired on December 31, 2009.  There will be a move to extend these two credits as part of a proposed $100 billion tax package that could include research and development on clean energy technologies and ethanol.
  • Renewable Electricity Standard – Would mandate that 15% of the nation’s electricity generation come from renewable sources by 2021. Energy efficiency could meet a portion of this requirement.
  • “Oil Spill Bill”: Legislation created in response to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which would likely improve safety requirements, place a fee on companies for inspections, increase penalties, and improve the oil well permitting process.
  • Natural Gas and Electric Vehicles Tax Incentives and Grants: Tax incentives for the purchase and manufacture of natural gas vehicles, grants for refueling stations, and $100 million to the Department of Energy to accelerate deployment of plug-in electric vehicles.

It does not appear likely that Congress will act on the Home Star rebate program.

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