Monthly Archives: May 2014

Future of Federal Energy Incentives

Tax committees in both the US Senate and House of Representatives are in the process of meeting and are expected to review, reinstate, and strengthen several tax bills containing energy incentives that expired at the end of 2013.

Earlier this year, letters were sent by dozens of leaders in energy industries to Congress urging a multi-year extension of expired energy tax credits and deductions. Extending the tax credits would provide the necessary stability for businesses to finalize decisions to building new buildings or improve the ones they are in and do so in an energy-efficient manner.

Here is a list of tax credits that have or will soon expire. These have been credited with helping businesses remain competitive and do so in an energy efficient manner and help develop needed infrastructure, and advanced fuels. These are being considered for extension by the US Congress:

• Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit
• Replace the Investment Tax Credit (Section 48) placed-in-service qualifying deadline with a commence construction standard
• Bonus Depreciation

• Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Deduction (IRS Section 179D)
• Residential Energy Efficiency Credit (25C)
• Energy-Efficient New Homes Credit (45L)
• Energy-Efficient Appliance Manufacturing Credit (45M)

• Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit (30C)
• Alternative Fuel and Fuel Mixtures Credit (6426)
• Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Credit (40A)
• Second Generation (Cellulosic) Biofuel Producer Credit (40)
• Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Credit (168)

CCES has the expertise to help you develop a project that will qualify for incentives, whether they be federal ones, such as these, when reinstated, or state, local or utility incentives. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Pres. Obama Turns to the Public to Advance His Energy Efficiency Agenda

President Obama has tried to work with Congress to develop a national energy plan, climate change rules, and renewable energy standards that will encourage business and local job creation, while saving costs. But there has been no success, as Congress has been wont to pass any measure. For example, IRS code 179D, giving businesses that achieve energy efficiency gains a tax deduction, expired at the end of 2013, despite the fact that both Congressional Democrats and Republicans in conference agreed over a year ago to extend the rule and even enhance it. Promoting something that everyone agrees on, like energy efficiency, by rule just can’t happen right now.

Therefore, President Obama is trying to achieve gains in energy efficiency by two alternative means, one by Executive Branch decree and the other by the private sector. President Obama issued Executive Order 13514 and a follow up memo earlier this month ( that set environmental and energy goals for Federal agencies. Federal agencies must increase energy efficiency, reduce fleet petroleum consumption, conserve water, reduce waste, support sustainable communities, and leverage Federal purchasing power to promote environmentally-responsible products and technologies.
Given that the Federal Government occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates over 600,000 vehicles, and purchases over $500 billion per year in goods and services, the Executive Order can have a real impact on national energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. This will also benefit the taxpayer through substantial energy savings.

The Executive Order and memo require agencies to meet several targets, as follows:
• 30% reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020;
• 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020;
• 50% recycling and waste diversion by 2015;
• 20% of energy use should be derived from renewable sources by 2020 (if viable);
• 95% of all applicable contracts will meet sustainability requirements, and others.

Pres. Obama has also taken his quest for energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions to the “streets”, visiting several large, well-known corporations to encourage and reward them for energy investments and use them as models for others. Pres. Obama recently appeared at a California Walmart to praise the company for not just setting corporate goals, but implementing programs to improve energy efficiency and install more renewable energy sources. Pres. Obama noted the cost savings that Walmart has achieved, as well as the American jobs created and the reduction in GHG emissions achieved at the same time. Pres. Obama has lauded other companies, too, such as General Mills, General Motors, UTC, and others. The President’s office recently announced that several major US corporations committed to getting more energy from renewable power, such as Google, Yahoo, Apple, Ikea, and Kaiser Permanente.

The Obama administration has reached out to individual consumers, too. New CAFÉ standards will mean gasoline cost savings and fewer trips to the station. New appliance standards were recently issued to reduce energy use 1.2 trillion kWh over 30 years. Studies have shown that the overwhelming source of GHG emissions for the life cycle of appliances is not their manufacture or transportation to market, but their everyday use, (electricity). More energy efficient appliances will reduce GHG emissions greatly.

Overall, Pres. Obama’s new energy efficiency and renewable energy strategy is based on changing the culture of this country, to show that investing in these areas is not only the right thing to do, but also the more profitable thing to do. These companies investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy when they did not have to should remind all businesses of the opportunities for financial benefits if they address energy issues smartly. In addition, this public relations approach will likely interest and encourage the general public who could themselves reward firms that invest or punish others that don’t with the power of the pocketbook (sales and investments).

And it’s not just mega-firms, like GM, Apple, Google, etc. who benefit from energy efficiency. All firms can. CCES consulted for a much smaller firm, Colonial Needle Company (, which recently underwent a complete energy overhaul: upgrading lights, installing new double-paned windows, installing new, better insulation, replacing an old oil boiler with a new smaller one using natural gas with thermostatic control, and installing solar hot water and PV systems. Besides the technical advice, we helped them obtain applicable financial incentives, as well.

Energy costs, which were choking their bottom line, were reduced greatly; but Colonial Needle received other benefits, too. They took one section of their building that was laying dormant and refurbished it into an area they now lease for revenue. They also noted an increase in comfort and productivity of staff. Greater revenue, reduced costs, and greater productivity, all due to energy efficiency. A business cannot ask for anything more than that! Colonial Needle will be honored in June with the Outstanding Achievement Award in Energy by the Westchester Green Business Challenge. CCES is proud to have been part of the team to get them there!

CCES can help your building and company become more energy efficient and maximize the financial gains. We know the newest technologies – including renewable energy sources – and how to design them to effectively reduce your energy costs in a smart way. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Proposed Federal Strategies to Reduce Methane Emissions

While reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion (energy conservation) is an important part of reducing GHG emissions to combat climate change, another area is methane (CH4), which is 21 times more potent than CO2. As part of its Climate Action Plan, the Obama Admin. Recently issued: “Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions”:

According to this “Methane Strategy”, CH4 emissions currently account for nearly 9% of all US GHG emissions, and are expected to increase if no new action is taken. Common CH4 emission sources include solid waste landfills, coal mines, agriculture, and oil & gas. Here is a summary of proposals to reduce CH4 emissions in the Methane Strategy.

• Landfills: Later this year, the USEPA will propose updated standards to reduce CH4 from new and existing landfill. The USEPA will continue its Landfill Methane Outreach program to promote voluntary CH4 recovery projects at landfills. The USEPA will also continue its nationwide efforts to encourage reduction of solid waste generation (ending up at landfills), such as the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.

• Coal Mines: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on developing a program for capturing, selling, and/or disposing of waste mine CH4 produced on Federal government lands through coal and other solid mineral leases. The USEPA will continue to promote voluntary recovery and beneficial use of CH4 from coal mines.

• Agriculture: The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy will issue a “Biogas Roadmap” shortly. This will provide voluntary strategies for implementing technologies for reducing all GHGs from this sector, including encouraging the use of anaerobic digestion and biogas (CH4) utilization systems.

• Oil & Gas: The USEPA will issue white papers developed by independent experts on how to reduce GHG emissions from the oil & gas industry, focusing on reducing both VOCs and CH4, then will decide future rules or voluntary programs, probably this fall. If the USEPA decides the regulatory route, such proposed rules will be issued by late 2016. The USEPA will continue to promote its Natural Gas STAR Program which encourages practices to reduce CH4 and other emissions. BLM will also release a proposed rule to regulate venting and flaring from oil & gas wells on Federal government land. The DOE will issue its Quadrennial Energy Review in early 2015 to recommend actions for improving energy transmission, storage, and distribution, including opportunities to abate CH4 emissions.

CCES has the expertise and experience to assist you in reducing your full GHG emissions in the most cost-effective manner and in such a way to reduce your expenses and increase productivity to make back the money you’ve spent. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Supreme Court Reinstates Cross-State Air Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in a case focused on whether the USEPA through the Clean Air Act can regulate air pollution emitted in one state that may harm people in other states. See The CAA has a Good Neighbor Provision, prohibiting sources from emitting any air pollutant which would contribute significantly to the ability of downwind states to meet its NAAQS standards.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-2 that the USEPA interpreted the CAA properly when it designed and implemented the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR or the “Transport Rule”). This ruling overturned a decision from a D.C. Circuit court ruling in 2012.

The decision reinstates CSAPR, meaning that large sources of ozone precursors in upwind states will be subject to more stringent air pollution control requirements in the future. The ruling also states that the USEPA acted properly in issuing federal implementation plans (FIPs) for the rule, which was a main objection of the Circuit court.

However, it should be noted that the Supreme Court ruling did provide some restrictions of CSAPR, such as limiting control restrictions. The USEPA can only require an upwind state to reduce its emissions as it affects every downwind state to which it is linked up to either the amount needed to achieve attainment with applicable NAAQS or the point at which the upwind state is no longer contributing more than 1% of their air pollution problem. An upwind state that believes that restrictions in CSAPR or a FIP go beyond meeting one or the other limit can challenge the applicable rules.

The USEPA has not yet announced a timetable or how it will reinstate CSAPR. However, the overall takeaway of the Supreme Court decision is that large combustion sources – particularly coal-fired electric or other large plants – will be further regulated for emissions of pollutants, such as NOx, VOCs, and PM, that impact other states. Another type of source that could be regulated or more moderate-sized facilities that are located near and upwind of state borders. If monitors and/or dispersion modeling demonstrate that its emissions impact or risk the attainment status of downwind states, then they may be regulated, too. Therefore, it is important for any facility that has the potential to emit even moderate quantities of such compounds to assess their emissions and prepare for potentially controlling emissions even more than it already does.

CCES has the air pollution experts to determine your emissions of critical pollutants and determine whether these rates meet standards listed in current or proposed future rules, including performing impact analyses. We can perform technical portions of an analysis to determine your potential compliance status vis-à-vis CSAPR and other Air rules. We can determine various cost-effective strategies to comply comfortably (if necessary), as well as design monitoring systems to allow you to manage your compliance program in response to future changes. Contact us at or at 914-584-6720.