WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King wrote to the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, urging them to include language from the Biomass Thermal Utilization (BTU) Act in any tax extender legislation. The BTU Act is bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would help promote the many economic and environmental benefits that biomass thermal energy provides by qualifying biomass heating equipment for renewable energy tax credits.
“Many regions of the United States are rich in sustainably managed biomass resources. For example, in 2016, biomass produced 27 percent of Maine's electricity and employed over 1000 of our citizens,” Senators Collins and King wrote. “Yet Maine and other states continue to rely heavily on imported fossil fuels (heating oil, natural gas, propane) for residential and commercial heating during the long, cold winters. High-efficiency biomass heating systems can sustainably help to meet residential and commercial heating needs, catalyze economic development especially in rural forest- and farm-dependent communities, and create jobs and opportunity through local, renewable heating sources. That is why this bill is co-sponsored by members from the Northwest, Northeast, and Midwest.”
More specifically, the BTU Act would add biomass fuel property to the list of existing technologies that qualify for the residential renewable energy investment tax credit. To qualify, the biomass fuel property must operate at a thermal efficiency rate of at least 75 percent and be used to either heat space within the dwelling or heat water. The bill would also add open-loop biomass heating property to the list of existing technologies that qualify for the commercial renewable energy investment tax credit in the federal tax code. Qualifying biomass heating property must operate at thermal output efficiencies of at least 65 percent and be used to generate heat, hot water, steam, or industrial process heat. The credit would be two-tiered: for technologies that operate at thermal output efficiencies between 65 and 80 percent, the investment tax credit is limited to 15 percent of installed capital cost. Technologies operating at thermal output efficiencies greater than 80 percent would be eligible for the full 30 percent investment tax credit.
By offering tax incentives, the legislation would encourage people and businesses to upgrade away from oil boilers to highly efficient biomass heating systems.