Biomass Energy Gets Recognition in Law
2020 provided plenty to complain about, but it ended with some good news for the biomass industry. The December COVID-19 relief act (aka the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021) adds biomass thermal heating systems to the renewable energy systems eligible for receiving tax credits. It also extends those credits through 2023: a 26 percent credit for purchase and installation costs through 2022 and a reduced 22 percent credit in 2023 (section 148).
The act goes further by formally recognizing “the full benefits of the use of forest biomass for energy” so that the government may establish policies that “reflect the carbon-neutrality of forest bioenergy and recognize biomass as a renewable energy source” (section 439). It also modifies the definition of renewable energy to include “thermal energy” (section 623).
What this means is that domestic demand for pellets, cordwood, briquettes, and chips will increase with the additional heat units that will be purchased. In the long run, the act sets up the biomass industry to compete on even ground with other renewable energy sources for federal incentives, which—given president-elect Joe Biden’s environmental goals—are likely to roll out in coming years.
These additions to the Consolidated Appropriations Act were made possible through the efforts of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) and its coalition, which have been lobbying Congress since 2009 to incentivize modern wood heating systems. While the act does not include tax credits for businesses wishing to switch to biomass, the credits now available for residential applications are a major victory.
Jeff Serfass, BTEC’s executive director, recognized “Senators Susan Collins and Angus King (ME), Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan (NH), and Representatives Peter Welch (VT), Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas (NH), and Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden (ME) for their support for the BTU Act, which BTEC has been lobbying to pass for over a decade. Collins and King, in particular, were integral to including the tax credits for residential biomass heating systems in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
The success displayed with biomass’s inclusion in the Appropriations Act highlights the importance of organizations like BTEC, which represent the industry day in and day out in the mires of Washington. More success is possible, but it will require the repeated, continued financial support of members.
Consider joining BTEC in their fight to represent your interests in Congress. Learn more and apply for membership at https://www.biomassthermal.org/.