Friday, September 14, 2012

Senate Committee approves extension of biomass stove tax credit

Alliance for Green Heat, Sept. 14, 2012 - The Senate Committee on Finance marked up a bill last month dealing with the extension of energy efficiency tax credits, and included the $300 “25C tax credit” for home installation of biomass stoves and boilers. The bill, known as the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act, would allow residential consumers to continue to be eligible for the tax credit until December 31, 2013, a two-year extension of the previous deadline.

The Senate Committee on Finance estimates the extension to reduce tax revenues by $2.4 million dollars over the two years, but believes "extending the credit for energy efficient improvements and property expenditures will encourage homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient, thus helping to reduce residential energy consumption." Click here for a copy of the full bill: Click here for previous news and analysis about the 25C tax credit:

The bill could be passed by the full Senate in the lame duck session after the November elections and before the end of the year. Some similar version would also have to pass the House of Representatives and be reconciled by a committee representing the two chambers.

Although aimed at encouraging efficient energy consumption, the bill’s vague efficiency standards definitions create what some may call a loophole for appliance manufacturers. The bill requires boilers and stoves to have a 75% thermal efficiency rating at the lower heating value (LHV); however, manufacturers are able to self-certify their efficiency using any of several formulas. The result is that virtually every pellet stove and EPA-certified wood stove on the market was claimed to be 75% efficient. This has little effect on increasing stove sales overall, but prevents the bill from incentivizing the most efficient stoves. The Alliance for Green Heat believes this is a disservice to consumers and ultimately to the industry itself, because consumers, regulators, and the renewable energy community do not see movement toward higher efficiency. The bill in its current version reinforces the image that wood stoves are a static technology that has not changed much in decades.

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