Senate Bill Would Create Biomass Tax Credit

A bipartsian group of US Senators introduced a bill to encourage businesses to meet their heating needs with renewable biomass.

The American Renewable Biomass Heating Act of 2010 (S. 3188), would establish a corporate tax credit equal to 30% of the installed cost of biomass-fueled heating (or cooling) systems for commercial or industrial applications. The credit would have no maximum and would be available for biomass thermal systems placed in service on or before December 31, 2013.

The bill is sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Mark Begich (D-AK).

“We need to break our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and biomass, used effectively and sustainably, can help do that,” said Senator Shaheen. “The American Renewable Biomass Heating Act will help put highly efficient biomass on a level playing field with other renewable resources and create the incentives businesses need to invest in clean energy.”

To qualify for the credit, biomass boilers and furnaces would be required to operate at greater than 75% efficiency and provide thermal energy for space heating, air conditioning, domestic hot water, or industrial process heat.

Large scale biomass thermal systems have been widely deployed in Europe, where government incentives have played a vital role in helping reduce fossil energy and create new biomass jobs.

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) praised the new bill. “This bipartisan bill will help create a market for commercial scale biomass thermal systems,” said Charlie Niebling, Chairman of the Washington D.C.-based Biomass Thermal Energy Council.  “It supports biomass thermal with the same incentive that already exists for every other renewable energy technology, including solar thermal and electric, wind, and geothermal.  Businesses are some of our nation’s biggest consumers of thermal energy, and S. 3188 will provide a powerful incentive to switch to biomass fuels that we produce here in America.”

A report released last week by the National Wildlife Federation states that changes to federal policies are necessary for developing sustainable biomass power in the US. And some environmentalists question whether biomass-fired power should be given the same level of support that renewables like wind and solar receive.

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