The Cleaner, Secure, Affordable Thermal Energy Act (S. 1643) has been introduced by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) that would provide significant tax incentives to convert from heating oil to natural gas, along with measures designed to increase energy efficiency efforts nationwide.
As this issue goes to press, the text of the bill is not yet available nor have the major industry associations developed a formal position. A summary from the Energy and Natural Resources Committee notes S.1643 would create significant tax incentives for consumers, businesses and tax-exempt entities that now rely on heating oil to convert to ‘more efficient” natural gas or biomass (wood pellet stoves) heating systems.
The summary states:
Across the country (particularly in the Northeast and Midwest), many homes and buildings still derive heat from oil-burning furnaces. According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2007, our nation consumed nearly 160 million barrels of oil for heating fuel. This use of heating oil continues despite the existence of widely available alternatives that are cleaner, more secure and more affordable. Besides that, natural gas and biomass are far more secure resources: 98 percent of domestically-consumed natural gas is produced in North America, and domestic reserves of natural gas are estimated at 100 years, based on current consumption.
Not surprisingly, in a press release the energy utility National Grid (a provider of natural gas service): ‘