In one of the final acts under the Democratic majority, senators late Tuesday cleared for President Barack Obama's signature a one-year, $41.6 billion bill to extend expired tax breaks only through 2014.
The outcome left the wind energy industry short of its goal for a longer renewal, and senators from both parties pointing fingers at each other and the White House for the failure to enact a bill that would have extended some 55 provisions at least through next year.
Following the dramatic Saturday vote to send a $1.1 trillion 2015 appropriations bill to President Barack Obama that averts a government shutdown, the Senate looks to head for the exits this week, but not until Democrats confirm more energy agency nominees and try to pass a tax breaks bill that includes renewable energy and biofuels aid.
Democrats on Saturday put Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominee Colette Honorable in line for a vote this week, along with Christopher Smith to be the Energy Department's assistant secretary for fossil energy.
As the wind industry and allied senators called for the Senate to insist on its two-year tax breaks extension bill, prospects for the effort were dwindling, according to a key architect.
After the House passed a one-year bill that extends about 50 expired breaks -- including the wind Production Tax Credit -- only through this year, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told reporters that the legislative options to get a pending two-year bill through the Senate were limited.
"I continue to talk to senators about a bipartisan bill," Wyden said, "and I will tell you it is hard to see how you get over the procedure (issues) to bring it up."
The House on Monday overwhelmingly approved of a one-year renewal of the expired wind Production Tax Credit and other business tax breaks, despite calls for a longer extension from the wind industry, backed by environmental groups.
The Republican-led House voted 378-46 to send the $44.7 billion extenders bill to the Senate. Democrats there will have to decide whether to insist on the two-year, $85 billion extenders bill passed by the Finance Committee this spring, or simply pass the House bill as time runs short on their lame-duck session.
President Barack Obama made clear Wednesday he could sign either bill.
The $44.7 billion House bill to renew expired wind energy and other business tax breaks through 2014 failed to draw opposition from Senate Democrats on Tuesday, as a key Republican predicted lawmakers will ultimately agree to send the plan to President Barack Obama.
Lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol said they wanted a longer term bill to give businesses and individuals more certainty. But they also said the one-year bill was the only viable option after a $400 billion multi-year draft plan discussed by leaders in both chambers was shelved after the White House voiced its opposition last week.
The wind energy industry is facing another year of uncertainty about a key tax incentive if Congress goes ahead with a package of business tax break renewals that extends only through 2014.
A multi-year $400 billion proposal -- which would have extended some expired tax breaks, including the wind Production Tax Credit, and made others permanent -- fell victim last week to White House opposition. On Monday, House Republicans unveiled a one-year, $44.7 billion package of renewals for breaks that expired last Dec. 31, including the PTC and other incentives for biofuels and energy efficiency.
The Illinois Commerce Commission has granted approval for Clean Line Energy Partners’ Rock Island Clean Line, intended to transmit power 500 miles from wind farms in the Plains states, Crain’s Chicago Business reports.
Short-covering and the expiration of the front month contract helped power oil prices to a huge gain Friday. West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery shot up 5 percent, or $2.41, to settle at $56.52 a barrel on the Nymex, while in London February Brent finished $2.11 higher at $61.38, Reuters reports.
Oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday that 1,875 rigs were drilling for oil and gas in the U.S. this week, a drop of 18 and the second week in a row that the number has fallen, FuelFix reports.
Comparing present-day statistics with numbers during the oil bust in the mid-1980s has led JP Morgan Chase economist Michael Feroli to warn that Texas could slip into a regional recession next year, FuelFix reports.
Job losses in the power generation sector over the past three years topped 5,800, according to data released by the Energy Information Administration Friday, which said all parts of the industry were affected other than renewable energy, The Hill reports.
Avenue Capital, the hedge fund run by Marc Lasry that specializes in buying distressed companies’ debt, is raising $750 million for a fund that will focus on the energy sector, according to the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement Board, which confirms it has put in $200 million, the New York Post reports.
Tesla is testing the market for battery swaps: Near California supercharging stations where Model S owners can top up their batteries for free, the company is creating a facility where drivers can pay a cost equivalent to a tank of gasoline and get a fully-charged battery installed in three minutes, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The growth of global carbon emissions slowed in 2013 -– although the total of 35.3 billion tons did set a record -- and the rate of increase tailed off despite an uptick in economic activity, says a report from the European Commission’s Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research, or EDGAR, according to E&E.
INEOS hopes to get commercial shale gas production under way in Britain before the end of the decade, according to documents the government released Friday, which detailed the company’s presentation to the Department of Energy and Climate Change in February, Platts reports.