Kuster, Kelly, Welch, and Pingree Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Incentivize Efficient, Renewable Energy
Washington, May 14, 2021
Washington, D.C. — Today, Reps. Annie Kuster (NH-02), Mike Kelly (PA-16), Peter Welch (VT-AL), and Chellie Pingree (ME-01) reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would incentivize the use of energy efficient biomass heaters in businesses instead of relying on fossil fuel energy. The Biomass Thermal Utilization (BTU) Act would amend the federal tax code to incentivize the use of energy-efficient boilers, stoves, and heaters that use forest and agricultural residues through tax credits for capital costs incurred in commercial installations. Tax incentives already exist for many other forms of renewable or efficient energy, and this bill seeks to achieve parity between those systems and thermal biomass systems. The legislation would encourage people and businesses to reduce the use of non-renewable fossil heating fuels by offering these incentives.
“Modern wood boilers and heating systems are essential to transitioning away from fossil fuels,” said Rep. Kuster. “Incentivizing this option not only levels the playing field but also helps support a strong wood products economy in New Hampshire and across the country. I’m pleased that tax incentives for families looking to install these systems in their private residences became law last year, and now it is time to extend that same opportunity to commercial business places. I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation, and I will continue working in Congress to advance smart energy solutions for generations to come.”
“By leveling the playing field for the biomass industry, we will create jobs, reduce energy costs, and benefit the environment,” said Rep. Kelly. “Rural communities, including many in my Western Pennsylvania district, rely on wood heat for their homes. The BTU Act will make this energy source more affordable and accessible.”
“Biomass heating systems can help reduce the high costs of heating bills while supporting sustainable energy,” said Rep. Welch. “Using a regionally sourced fuel can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and will spur Vermont’s local wood fuel industry. This bipartisan legislation is a win-win-win for the economy, the consumer, and future generations.”
“Biomass can be a sustainable, renewable, and affordable energy source. Expanding the biomass tax credit will encourage more Mainers to use this greener form of home heating and spur growth in our forest products industry,” said Rep. Pingree. “There is bipartisan support for our bill because it will not only reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, it will boost consumers’ wallets, improve our environment, and strengthen Maine’s workforce.”
“Increasing the ability to expand modern wood heat is a tremendous opportunity for our communities to use local, sustainable fuel, keeping heating dollars local, creating and sustaining new forest based jobs and lowering carbon emissions,” said Rob Riley, President of the Northern Forest Center. “We appreciate Congresswoman Kuster’s leadership on this important piece of legislation.”
“The NHTOA thanks Congresswoman Kuster for her leadership on this legislation,” said Jasen Stock, Executive Director of the NH Timberland Owners Association. “The benefits of using wood for heat go far beyond displacing fossil fuel. The markets wood heating projects create for low-grade timber enable timberland owners and their land managers to economically justify timberland ownership and perform sustainable forestry. Moreover, these markets benefit our rural economies by keeping our energy dollars local, supporting those who grow, harvest, and process a renewable resource - timber.
“The Pellet Fuels Institute cheers the introduction of the BTU Act and sees it as a recognition that modern pellet heating can provide the same sustainable and renewable thermal energy solution for businesses and institutions that it can for private residences,” said Tim Portz, Executive Director of the Pellet Fuels Institute.
“Efficient use of sustainable biomass for thermal energy is a critical option for US decarbonization of the C&I sector, and particularly for high temperature thermal needs,” said Dan Wilson, Board Chair of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council. “This energy pathway will develop a key beneficial use market for residues from the sustainable agriculture and forestry sectors, while replacing fossil fuel use and creating local jobs. The BTU Act would ensure modern, clean, and efficient energy conversion systems are encouraged, and begin to correct the disparity in policy treatment for this pathway as compared to other energy sources and pathways.”
"Sustainable Northwest applauds the introduction of the BTU Act as a commonsense and scientifically sound approach to increasing use of modern wood heating renewable energy options,” said Dylan Kruse, Director of Government Affairs at Sustainable Northwest. “This legislation will reduce dependence on fossil fuels, support rural stewardship jobs, and create essential new market opportunities to restore and enhance the health and resilience of forests across the western U.S."
Specifically, the BTU Act would:
—Underscore that heat from forest and agricultural residuals is an underutilized energy source in the United States.
—Add highly efficient modern heating property that utilizes these fuels to the list of existing technologies that qualify for the commercial renewable energy investment tax credit in the federal tax code.
The members were joined in introducing the BTU Act by Reps. John Garamendi (CA-03) and Chris Pappas (NH-01). Companion legislation was introduced by Senators Angus King and Susan Collins of Maine. A provision adding biomass fuel property to the list of existing technologies that qualify for the residential renewable energy investment tax credit, which had been included in the BTU Act, became law in December 2020 as part of the Omnibus Appropriations package.