Bill proposes tax credits for industrial biomass thermal systems

By Anna Simet | July 02, 2012

A new bill proposed by three U.S. senators would establish a tiered corporate tax credit to cover the installation costs of biomass-fueled heating or cooling systems for commercial or industrial applications.

Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., have introduced the "Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act of 2012,” which would provide a 15 percent tax credit to biomass boilers and furnace property that operate at efficiency levels between 60 percent and 80 percent, as measured by the higher heating value.

Systems that reach above 80 percent would qualify for a 30 percent credit. The tax credits would have no maximum and would be available for biomass thermal systems placed in service on or before January 1, 2016.

Joseph Seymour, executive director of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, said the bill’s two-tiered structure will promote the most advanced and cleanest biomass thermal technologies, and will help the commercial and industrial sectors—two of the nation's biggest consumers of thermal energy—switch to renewable biomass fuels produced in the U.S.

The bill also improves upon an existing tax credit that Congress enacted in 2008 for combined heat and power systems by expanding the credit's applicability from the first 15 MW to the first 25 MW of system capacity, and removing the overall system size cap of 50 MW.

Numerous environmental, non-profit and industry stakeholders joined BTEC in issuing support for the legislation, including the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Alliance to Save Energy, Pew Charitable Trusts, U.S. Combined Heat and Power Association, the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association

The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, which Bingaman and Snowe serve on.