On March 23, 2018, President Trump signed the much ballyhooed 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill contained spending and resources for many industries and groups, including for energy efficiency. The Consolidated Appropriations Act (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4417591-FY-2018-Omnibus.html) passed by Congress disregarded major cuts in spending proposed by the administration and instead raised funding in many areas that Congress favored, including federal programs that help consumers and businesses save energy. President Trump reluctantly signed the bill, enabling several programs to be re-established.
Overall, the bill increases funding for energy efficiency programs at the USDOE and maintains funding levels for such programs at the USEPA. The bill maintains current funding levels for ENERGY STAR® and other programs that give consumers and businesses information to select energy-efficient products. The USEPA’s laboratory, where vehicle certification testing and research occurs, was not cut.
There had been concern that funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy would be cut. Instead, the USDOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will see an overall increase in funding of 11%. The Building Technologies and Vehicle Technologies Offices will each receive an increase of 10% more funding. The Bill also includes a 10% increase for the Weatherization Assistance Program. It should be noted that the USDOE’s Equipment and Building Standards Program was cut by 7%.
It is ironic that Republicans in Congress strongly supported such programs that are also supported by environmentalists and by those wishing to fight Climate Change. However, Republicans supported these programs because they represent “clean energy” and cost savings, something they recognize the US needs to stay in the lead at globally. Several Republicans whose states stand to gain from these technologies, such as Ohio, which has several wind turbine manufacturing plants, supported these measures.
In addition to the funding, the Bill also addressed financial incentives for energy projects. For example, the combined heat and power (CHP) market will get a boost from the extension of the federal tax credit for such projects. The tax credit can benefit the owner or an operator of its CHP system or a 3rd party owner selling power to the utility through a power purchase agreement. It is anticipated that more investors will take an interest in microgrids and CHP, including utilities, to spread the risk of power delivery. This would be an interesting development as utilities for quite some time fought hard to discourage microgrids as unfair competition against their large grid service.
Finally, the Bill reinstates the IRS tax deduction for energy efficient upgrades of buildings called EPACT (Section 179D), going back to January 1, 2017 and is valid through December 31, 2018. EPACT provides a potential tax deduction up to $1.80 per square foot for certain energy upgrades.
CCES has the experts and experience to assist you in performing energy efficiency evaluations and implementing the projects with the maximum financial benefits for the building owner and manager, including getting the greatest incentives from appropriate agencies and tax deductions. Contact us at karell@CCESworld.com or 914-584-6720.