On Saturday, the US House of Representatives passed its version of an Energy Bill (H.R.3221): “The New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act.”
The bill, which integrates efforts from eleven House committees, establishes a wide range of long-term incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation initiatives, paid for primarily by the repeal of about $16 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies. It establishes a renewable power standard requiring all electric utilities to produce 15% of their power from wind, solar, biomass or other renewable sources by 2020. The bill does not address vehicle fuel economy.
On the transportation side, H.R.3221 focuses on three primary areas: biofuels, including biogas and biogas hybrids and plug-in; mass transit; and support for plug-in hybrids.
Some of the transportation-related sections of the bill include:
Title IV (Science and Technology), Subtitle E (Biofuels). Among the provisions of this subtitle of the bill, the “Biofuels Research and Development Enhancement Act” are:
A technology transfer center, established by the Department of Energy in cooperation with the department of Agriculture, that will make information available on research, development, and commercial application of technologies related to biofuels and biorefineries, including: biochemical and thermochemical conversion technologies capable of making fuels from lignocellulosic feedstocks; biotechnology processes capable of making biofuels with an emphasis on development of bio-refinery technologies using enzyme-based processing systems; biogas collection and production technologies suitable for vehicular use; cost-effective reforming technologies that produce hydrogen fuel from biogas sources; biogas production from cellulosic and recycled organic waste sources and advancement of gaseous storage systems; and other advanced processes and technologies that will enable the development of biofuels.
A research, development, and demonstration program for a biofuels distribution infrastructure.
A study on any research and development challenges inherent in increasing the proportion of biodiesel sold in the US to 2.5% of diesel fuel sold.
A study on research and development challenges inherent in increasing to 5% the transportation fuels sold in the United States fuel with biogas or a blend of biogas and natural gas.
Establishing at least 5 bioresearch centers that focus on biofuels.
Grants to eligible entities for research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of biofuel production technologies in states with low rates of ethanol production, including low rates of production of cellulosic biomass ethanol.
Programs to increase energy efficiency in the operation of biorefineries, and to enable biorefineries that exclusively use corn grain or corn starch as a feedstock to produce ethanol to be retrofitted to accept a range of biomass, including lignocellulosic feedstocks.
A study on increasing the level of ethanol blended in gasoline in the US to from 10% to 40%.
A study on optimizing flex-fuel vehicles to use E85.
A study of engine durability and performance associated with the use of biodiesel.
A study a of methods of increasing the fuel efficiency of vehicles using biogas by optimizing natural gas vehicle systems that can operate on biogas, including the advancement of vehicle fuel systems and the combination of hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid electric drive plat- forms with natural gas vehicle systems using biogas.
A report on the progress of the research and development that is being conducted on the use of algae as a feedstock for the production of biofuels.
Title V (Agriculture Energy). Among the provisions of the section of the bill are loan guarantees for the construction of biorefineries and biofuel plants. The section also extends the research cooperation between the departments of Energy and Agriculture.
Title VIII (Transportation and Infrastructure.) This title, the “Transportation Energy Security and Climate Change Mitigation Act of 2007” establishes a Center for Climate Change and to plan, coordinate, and implement research, strategies and actions to reduce transportation-related energy use and mitigate the effects of climate change, with special emphasis on research strategies and action to address the impacts of climate 21 change on transportation systems and infrastructure.
The bill has a number of provisions related to the support and development of public transportation and congestion-reduction, factoring in all modes of transport.
Title IX (Energy and Commerce), Subtitle E (Advanced Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles and Components). This section provides incentives for the conversion of vehicles to plug-ins as well as for the advancement of the enabling technology. Among the provisions are:
A program to provide guarantees of loans by private institutions for the construction of facilities for the manufacture of advanced vehicle batteries and battery systems that are developed and produced in the United States, including advanced lithium ion batteries and hybrid electrical system and component manufacturers and software designers.
A competitive program to provide grants on a cost-shared basis to State governments, local governments, metropolitan transportation authorities, air pollution control districts, private or nonprofit entities to carry out projects to encourage the use of plug-in electric drive vehicles or other “emerging” electric vehicle technologies.
Grants to support 5 demonstration programs to convert at least 1,000 vehicles in each program to plug-in hybrids, with the intention of determining how best to integrate plug-ins into the electric power grid and into the overall electricity infrastructure.
Incentives for medium- and heavy-duty hybrids,including hydraulic hybrids.
Inclusion of electric drive in the Energy Policy Act of 1992.
A study of the benefits of plug-in hybrids and electric drive vehicles.
Title X (Tax Provisions), Subtitle B (Conservation), Part 1 (Transportation). This section establishes tax credits for the purchase of plug-in hybrids.