Natural gas excluded from Democrats’ clean energy budget plan

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(Bloomberg) – Natural gas will not count as clean energy under a Democratic House plan that would end up ridding the electricity grid of carbon and is part of the $ 3.5 trillion tax and spending package that goes through Congress.

A House panel’s proposal would provide $ 150 billion to help electricity providers add more clean energy through a system of payments and penalties for electricity providers.

The funding, included in the budget package and due to be voted on by the House Energy and Trade Committee next week, is designed to help meet the White House’s climate goals of decarbonizing the electricity grid. by 2035. Republicans are expected to oppose the spending.

The legislation, which will eventually be incorporated into the Democrats’ massive budget measure, also includes tens of billions of dollars in funding for electric vehicles, the grid, and energy efficiency, among others.

According to the plan, natural gas would be excluded because only electricity with a carbon intensity of less than 0.10 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per megawatt hour will count, according to a summary provided by the committee. This has drawn praise from environmental groups who oppose the power source over concerns about hydraulic fracturing, or hydraulic fracturing, and the associated emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas.

“We are grateful that the House is working to prevent dirty gas from gaining support under the Build Back Better Act,” said Jean Su, director of the Energy Justice program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Senate should follow suit in this bold step to make our energy system truly renewable and ensure a secure climate and vibrant future for our communities. “

Under the program, electricity providers would be eligible for a subsidy if they increased the amount of clean electricity delivered to customers by 4% from the previous year, according to the summary. The grant will total $ 150 for every megawatt hour of clean electricity above 1.5% of the previous year’s total, the committee said.

Utilities that do not increase their percentage of clean electricity by at least 4% from the previous year will need a payment to the Energy Department, according to a committee backgrounder.

The bill, due to be presented to the panel on Monday, will also include a levy on methane emissions imposed on the oil and gas industry, $ 13.5 billion for chargers and other electric vehicle infrastructure, $ 7 billion dollars for loans and grants from the Department of Energy for zero emission transportation. technologies and $ 5 billion in funding to make school buses, garbage trucks and other heavy vehicles emission-free, according to the summary.

Other highlights of the Democratic proposal include $ 9 billion in funding for electricity grid upgrades, $ 17.5 billion for decarbonization of federal buildings and vehicle fleets, $ 18 billion for rebates. on energy efficiency of homes and appliances and $ 2.5 billion to fund solar projects in low-income communities.

“The investments we are making in the Build Back Better Act are absolutely critical in addressing this growing threat and keeping our economy competitive as the rest of the world struggles to dominate the clean energy job market,” said Frank Pallone, a representative from New Jersey. Democrat who chairs the committee. “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to bring these investments across the finish line and enact them. “

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