Biden Eyes Incentives on Clean Electricity Plan

Copyright © 2021 Energy Intelligence Group

US President Joe Biden underscored that tax incentives, rather than penalties for failing to hit clean electricity generation targets, will be the focus of Democrats’ climate plans in the budget reconciliation bill.

Speaking at a CNN Town Hall late Thursday, Biden outlined an alternative to a previously proposed clean electricity payment program, which US Sen. Joe Manchin is presently blocking.

That program, which had been the fulcrum of Biden’s climate agenda, would have paid utilities that ratchet their clean electricity generation by 4% each year and charged fees to those that failed to meet targets.

Manchin objected to the original proposal on the grounds that it wasn’t fuel-neutral and incentivized private companies to “do things they’re already doing.”

Still, Biden was emphatic that the idea might not be completely off the table, saying “nothing has been formally agreed to.”

Biden said the $150 billion lawmakers had set aside in the reconciliation bill for the payment program can be added to funding for tax incentives.

"I'm going to add it to be able to do other things ... that don't directly affect the electric grid in the way that there's a penalty, but allow me to spend the money to set new technologies in place,” he said.

Policy Planning

Tax incentives for clean energy were already a major part of Democrats’ reconciliation agenda. But it wasn't immediately clear whether Biden envisions potentially establishing a power-specific grant program.

Also during the town hall Thursday, Biden suggested that releasing crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to alleviate current surging US fuel prices might not be in the cards, noting that gasoline would remain over $3 per gallon.

“I could go in the petroleum reserve and take out and probably reduce the price of gasoline maybe 18¢ or so a gallon," he said. "It’s still going to be above three bucks.”

Last week, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm previously has said releases from the US SPR remain a “tool that’s on the table,” although her remarks were later walked back.

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