Obama signs spending bill, tax extenders legislation

By Erin Voegele | December 21, 2015

On Dec. 18, President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill and accompanying legislative package of tax extenders into law. The legislation includes two-year extensions of several tax credits that benefit the bioenergy sector.

On the morning of Dec. 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the spending bill by a vote of 316 to 113. A short time later, the U.S. Senate voted 56 to 33 in favor of the legislation.

The tax package extend the second generation biofuel production credit through Jan. 1, 2017. The credit allows facilities producing cellulosic biofuels to claim a $1.01-per-gallon production tax credit.

The measure also extends the $1-per-gallon blenders tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel for two years, through Dec. 31, 2016.  

In addition, the bill extends the special allowance for second generation biofuel plant property through Jan. 1, 2017. The alternative fuels excise tax credit is also extended through the end of 2016, along with the credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property.

The tax extenders package also benefits biomass power with an extension of the Section 45 production tax credit (PTC). The PTC for wind has been extended through Dec. 31, 2019, with the credit for other technologies extended for two years, through Dec. 31, 2016. The incentive amount for wind, geothermal, and closed-loop biomass is $0.023 per kilowatt hour. For other eligible technologies, including biomass, municipal solid waste, landfill gas, others, the credit is $0.011 per kilowatt hour. In general, the duration of the credit is 10 years after the placed-in-service date of the facility.

The 2009-page omnibus spending bill includes fiscal year 2016 funding for a wide range of government departments and programs, including the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance program, and Rural Energy for America Program.

Information released by the Algae Biomass Organization notes the spending bill includes specific measures that benefit the algae industry. This includes $30 million for algae research and development at the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office and $10 million for carbon use and reuse at the Department’s Office of Fossil Energy.