Energy bill stalls in Senate

18 May 2005

Comprehensive energy legislation has stalled in the Senate. The deadlock surrounds a link between the repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA) and the granting of more federal oversight in power industry mergers. Republican committee members refused to accept that additional regulatory oversight provisions are needed to ensure that some of PUHCA's consumer and investor protections remain.

Republicans are also thought to have shied away from an attempt to advance the renewable portfolio standard from the 2003 Senate energy bill, which called for utilities to get 20% of their power from renewables by 2025. The Republicans instead want the standard to include all low emission sources such as clean coal and nuclear power.

Controversial proposals to include carbon regulation in the energy legislation are also expected to yield more support by including the nuclear industry. However, long-standing enmity with the green lobby may yet see the nuclear generators left out in the cold, particularly when what are considered by many to be subsidies for the industry are concerned. Other contentious issues concern tax or production incentives for the industry. Meanwhile, the nuclear industry counters that without such incentives to jump start new build in the industry no-one will invest in new nuclear capacity.

The draft energy bill is likely to be unveiled in two parts over the next few weeks after which mark up will begin.

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