Another ?Green? Legislation Hits Senate: $1.5B For Energy Storage Companies

The Senate is considering yet another green-focused legislation. The? Storage Technology of Renewable and Green Energy Act of 2010, or simply? Storage 2010, introduced yesterday by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), could provide energy storage companies up to? $1.5 billion? in federal tax credits.?

Unlike the wind or solar industry, which have benefited from generous fiscal incentives and cash handouts, government support for energy storage companies remains thin. Storage 2010, which has now been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, seeks to change that.

In a prepared statement Senator Bingaman, who also chairs the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said:

The increased use of these new storage technologies is essential to modernizing our electrical grid and meeting our clean energy goals. Expanding our storage capacity will improve the efficiency, flexibility and reliability of the grid, allowing us to wring the most power out of it, while adding large amounts of new renewable energy resources like wind and solar.

The bill only provides tax credits to energy storage technology that’s connected to the electric grid and not for? companies developing bateries for electric cars. The rush to put solar and wind farms online has created its own set of issues. One is reliability. Unlike gas-fired or coal-fired plants, wind and solar generation are not constant. One way to ensure that green power is piped through the grid on sunny or rainy days or windless days is by deploying large batteries that can store the electricity and offload it to the grid when need it. At best, while promising energy storage for the grid remains largely experimental.

Storage 2010 provides a 20 percent investment tax credit of up to $30 million for storage systems connected to the electric grid. It also provide a 30 percent investment tax credit of up to $1 million to businesses, and a 30 percent tax credit for homeowners, for on-site storage projects.

Storage 2010 is just the latest renewable energy / cleantech legislation being considered by the Senate. Things are a little calmer on the House side considering that it passed its own comprehensive climate change more than a year ago and has basically been waiting for the Senate to pick up where it left off.

On the Senate side Kerry – Lieberman, the comprehensive climate change and energy bill with its devisive cap – and – trade provision, was introduced last spring. About a year ago Senator Bingaman introduced energy legislation, that among other things, would create a Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA), a government-funded “green bank” that would support the development and deployment of green energy technologies. Last month Senators Maria Cantwell (D -Wash.) and Dianne Feinstein (D -Calif.) announced they would? include an amendment in a tax bill that would extend the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) -funded direct cash grant program until the end of 2012. They expire at the end of the year.

Also, last winter Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Susan Collins, (R-Maine) introduced the CLEAR Act with its “cap-and-trade light” provision. Under that scheme the government would? sell pollution allowances to carbon-dependent industries to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But while in the current cap-and-trade provisions proceeds would? be partly reinvested to support clean energy, the Cantwell / Collins proposal would use? a lot of the proceeds to send checks to every American to offset an expected higher cost of energy brought on by the pricing of carbon.

Early last June, in a bid to get some sort of energy law in the books, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) introduced the conciliatory? Practical Energy and Climate Plan Act of 2010, which proposes incentives to buy more efficient vehicles and increase production of advanced biofuels but is void of? any carbon-pricing provision. The Obama administration has made it clear that it does not support the Lugar proposal.

Jude McCartin, spokeswoman with Senator Bingaman, says that Storage 2010 could be integrated into an eventual energy package made up of some of the legislation now being considered by the Senate, including? Kerry – Lieberman. “We are certainly available for that,” she explains.? But the fate of Storage 2010 and? the? other energy and climate change bills ultimately rests with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – Nev.). “A lot of what’s happening with energy these days is happening in the leadership office, “says McCartin.? This means that? it could be months before energy storage developers get their tax credits.

Photo: iStockphoto

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