OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Wind tax credit survives Senate Finance markup

TAX CREDITS: The Senate Finance Committee passed its tax extenders package Thursday and wind energy’s production tax credit (PTC) made it into the final bill.
 
The PTC wasn’t in the first draft unveiled Tuesday, but come Thursday morning, Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Finance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (D-Ore) had restored it, drawing approval from renewable energy advocates.
 

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"This is vitally important to Colorado,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who sponsored the amendment to restore the credit, which expired last year.
 
The PTC also survived an attempt by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to strip the bill of all of its alternative energy provisions. Toomey used the “winners and losers” argument, saying, “I don’t think we should force taxpayers to subsidize inefficient, uncompetitive forms of energy.”
 
Toomey’s amendment was rejected on a 6-18 vote, garnering support from many Republicans, including Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley: 'Good chance' Senate panel will consider bills to protect Mueller Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (R-Iowa). Grassley sponsored the first bill two decades ago for the PTC.
 
"I used to be the father of the wind energy tax credit; I suppose now I'm the grandfather," Grassley joked.


ON TAP FRIDAY: A House Appropriations subpanel will hold a hearing on the 2015 budget request for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

Tommy Beaudreau, director of the Interior Department's BOEM, will testify along with Brian Salerno, director of BSEE. The discussion could turn to the possibility of Interior opening up the Atlantic to offshore oil-and-gas exploration.

 

NEWS BITES:

Natural gas... Residential and commercial consumption of natural gas set a record average this winter, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.

According to data from Bentek Energy, cold weather drove total consumption up by 8 percent above last winter's levels. Residential and commercial consumption rose even higher, however, jumping 14 percent this winter, driving their share of total U.S. consumption to over 50 percent.

PTC phase-out... Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneAviation panel recommends Trump roll back safety rules Overnight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule Overnight Tech: Senate looks at self-driving trucks | Facebook to keep ads off fake news | House panel calls Equifax CEO to testify MORE (R-S.D.), whose state ranks No. 2 in terms of wind-energy production, proposed an amendment to phase the PTC out over five years, but he withdrew it, acknowledging that it is not germane to a bill about two-year extensions.
 
“It’s not a nascent industry, it is maturing. It’s generating billions of dollars in revenue, and powering the equivalent of more than 15 million American homes,” he said.
 
Instead, Thune said he wished to make a PTC phase-out part of a conversation about comprehensive tax reform. Wyden and Grassley both signaled a willingness to work with him on the issue.
 
“As an industry gets more mature, instead of waiting until its mature to make a final decision, we ought to start ahead of the curve and I’d like to encourage members of this committee to think in terms of what Sen. Thune has suggested,” Grassley said.
 
“It also fits the longer-term tax reform vision of parity between energy sources, a level playing field,” said Wyden.

AROUND THE WEB:

A federal report released this week concluded that Arch Coal Inc. continued operations at a Kentucky mine despite indicators of danger, which killed a worker in 2013, SNL Financial reports.
 
Energy issues, including local fracking, is becoming a major issue in the race between Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) over the Senate seat, the Denver Post reports.
 
New York is growing more and more reliant on natural gas despite its ban on fracking, Capital New York reports.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out what ran on E2-Wire on Thursday...

- Kerr-McGee to pay record toxic waste settlement
- Finance votes to restore wind tax credit
- High gas prices not fueling decline in driving
- New tax bill includes wind energy credit
- Senate panel passes chemical safety bill
- North Dakota, Montana oil production to surge
- Japan nears post-nuclear disaster energy policy



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