Senator King introduces legislation to provide tax parity for high-efficiency biomass heating systems in residential, commercial, and industrial applications
The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) voiced its strong support of Senator Angus King (I-ME) for his introduction of a bill to help homeowners and businesses across the nation meet their heating needs with renewable biomass. The bill is the first piece of legislation for the junior Senator from Maine, and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has joined as an original co-sponsor.
The "Biomass Thermal Utilization Act of 2013" (BTU Act) would recognize biomass thermal technologies within the renewable energy provisions of the tax code. One provision of the BTU Act would include high-efficiency biomass heating technology in Section 25D of the Internal Revenue Code, the residential renewable energy 30% investment tax credit. The second provision is a tiered tax credit for 15% or 30% of the installed cost of biomass-fueled heating (or cooling) systems for commercial or industrial applications in Section 48 of the tax code.
"Senator King's bill would provide highly efficient biomass thermal equipment the same incentive that exists for nearly every other renewable energy technology, including solar heating and PV, wind, and geothermal," said Joseph Seymour, Executive Director of the national non-profit Biomass Thermal Energy Council. "Thermal energy is typically the forgotten pathway in our national energy discussion, so we commend the Senator for recognizing biomass thermal technologies as a base-load, local, and affordable option within our tax code."
To qualify for the 30% residential credit, biomass equipment must operate at a thermal efficiency rate of at least 75% and be used for space or water heating. Alternatively, the commercial and industrial credit criteria contain two tiers. To qualify for the first tier (a 15% credit), biomass boiler and furnace property would be required to operate at efficiency levels between 65% and 80%. The second tier (30% credit) would be available for those operating at 80% efficiency and above. Higher heating value (HHV) would be the basis for the residential and commercial and industrial efficiency measures. Additionally, both credits would have no maximum and be available for systems placed in service on or before December 31, 2016.
The BTU Act's combination of residential and commercial investment credits would reduce the upfront capital costs of advanced biomass thermal systems. In regions of the country where businesses and homeowners rely on expensive and imported heating fuels such as heating oil and propane, biomass thermal technologies present an immediate lower cost of operation and demand for locally produced fuels.
Recent analyses of the Midwest and Northeast have found that achieving 15% and 25% of the regions' heating needs from renewables like biomass by the year 2025, respectively, would reinvest a combined $6.7 billion into local economies, reduce the use of heating oil and propane by 2.4 billion gallons, and create an estimated 350,000 jobs.
"Today, businesses and home owners are effectively penalized if they choose to invest in high efficiency, renewable biomass heating technologies," continued Seymour. "This bill would remove that barrier."
More information on the BTU Act and the biomass thermal industry may be found at www.biomassthermal.org.