The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) is pleased that for the first time a bipartisan group of House and Senate legislators introduced the Power Efficiency and Resiliency Act (POWER Act) last week. The bills (S. 1516/H. 2657) would ensure that industrial energy efficiency technologies—combined heat and power, and waste heat to power—are treated in a manner that is on par with other renewables covered by the investment tax credit.
SMACNA has long supported the investment tax credit (ITC) and other tax incentives for the construction of energy efficient power plants, combined heat and power facilities (CHP) and waste heat recovery (WHR) projects. The proposed legislative change would be particularly helpful for countless thousands of contractors on existing and future large CHP/WHP projects, including those systems found on many large commercial, public and industrial building sites.
Research has shown that when a business implements a highly efficient energy system featuring industrial, institutional, and commercial elements, it significantly reduces costs, curbs pollution, and enhances the resilience of the commercial electricity grid. The incentives in this bill could create as many as 1 million highly skilled jobs and spur more than $200 billion in private investment.
This bipartisan legislation would:
- Provide a 30 percent investment tax credit for industrial energy efficiency systems equal to other technologies such as solar, fuel cells, and small wind turbines.
- Include waste heat to power as a qualifying technology that is eligible for the credit.
- Remove size and capacity restrictions, making combined heat and power installations of any size eligible for the credit.
- Extend the credit, which is scheduled to expire in December 2016, to December 2018.
Senators Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.) and Representatives Thomas Reed (R-23rd-N.Y.), Earl Blumenauer (D-3rd-Ore.) are prime sponsors with Mark Amodei (R-2nd-Nev.), Chris Collins (R-27th-N.Y.), Chris Gibson (R-19th-N.Y.), Joe Heck (R-3rd-Nev.), Ron Kind (D-3rd-Wisc.), Tim Ryan (D-13th-Ohio), Dina Titus (D-1st-Nev.), and Peter Welch (D-AL-Vt.) as original cosponsors of the bill.
The POWER Act is good energy, economic, and environmental policy. Waste heat to power and combined heat and power are proven, highly efficient technologies that capture waste heat and recycle it to produce electricity and/or heat or cool buildings. They are already used at hospitals, military bases, wastewater treatment plants, and other critical facilities that need reliable electricity to provide crucial services even during grid outages and natural disasters.
By producing heat and power from a single fuel source, combined heat and power has double the efficiency of central station power generation. Waste heat to power captures heat that would typically be vented from an industrial facility and uses it to make electricity with no additional combustion and no incremental emissions. Both technologies dramatically improve efficiency while reducing emissions and cost.
The POWER Act is welcome news to industry, workers, environmentalists, and first responders. More than 110 businesses, trade associations, nonprofit organizations, and research institutions have endorsed the POWER Act.
SMACNA, an international trade association representing 4,500 contributing contractor firms, is a leader in promoting quality and excellence in the sheet metal and air conditioning industry. SMACNA has national offices in Chantilly, Va., outside of Washington, D.C., and on Capitol Hill. Visit www.smacna.org.