Energy legislation creeps back

May 1, 2003 By    

Major energy legislation that didn’t quite make it through Congress last year is rapidly taking shape this year. Several House and Senate panels have approved measures including tax and grant programs similar to legislation in the last Congress.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has approved the Energy Policy Act of 2003, authorizing the following:

  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – $3.4 billion per year in 2004 through 2006. Another $20 million could go to grants to improve energy efficiency.
  • State Energy Conservation Grants – $100 million in 2004 and 2005 and $125 million in 2006.
  • Weatherization – $325 million in 2004, $400 million in 2005 and $500 million in 2006.
  • Energy Efficiency Appliance Rebate Program – $50 million a year for the next five years in grants to states to give refunds to people who buy Energy Star products for their homes.
  • Clean School Bus Pilot Program – $60 million in 2004, $70 million in 2005 and $80 million in 2006 in grants to school transportation operators to buy buses running on alternative fuel. The House Science Committee approved the Energy Research, Development, Demonstration and Commercial Application Act of 2003 with a similar provision, but adding $10 million a year.The bill also would create federal programs to teach homeowners and small businesses how to save energy by maintaining their air control systems and to educate small businesses on energy efficiency.

    The measure also includes a tax credit for investments of up to $25,000 to build alternative fueling stations.

    Meanwhile, tax-writing committees approved legislation with the fueling credit and other tax incentives. The Senate Finance Committee approved the Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2003. It includes a credit of up to $40,000 per automobile running on alternative fuels, depending on their size. Buyers could get credits of up to $4,000 for autos meeting fuel efficiency standards and up to $10,000 for hybrid vehicles. Businesses could get up to $30,000 and homeowners $1,000 in credits for installing alternate fueling stations.

    Homeowners and builders could get tax credits of up to $2,000 for building energy efficient homes, and owners of existing homes could get credits of up to 10 percent of costs of energy improvements. Finally, makers of energy efficient appliances could get credits of up to $100 per machine.

    The House Ways and Means Committee approved the Energy Tax Policy Act of 2003 with credits of up to $2,000 for making energy improvements to homes, and building and buying energy-efficient houses. The bill would also extend existing credits for clean fuel vehicles.

    Briefly Speaking

    Propane stocks begin build

    Propane inventories rose to about 19.5 million barrels in late March following historically low levels caused by severe weather in January and February.

    The March stockdraw of 1.4 million barrels was less than half the five-year average of 3 million barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration. The inventory build occurred almost entirely in the Gulf area.

    Bill to fund clean transportation

    Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) introduced the Securing Transportation Energy Efficiency for Tomorrow (STREET) Act, which would provide $2 billion to develop alternative and energy-efficient fuel sources for transportation, including research money for clean, fuel-efficient engines.

    The bill would also start a $200 million, five-year Clean Airport Bus Pilot Program to buy airport buses that run on alternative fuels.

    Meanwhile, Rep. Lynn Woolsey’s (D-CA) Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Act would create a research program to improve automotive fuel efficiency, including use of alternative fuels.

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