Bill would disqualify ag energy for tax credits

Associate Editor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Feb. 14, 2017) — Two Montgomery County senators are behind a bill that would disqualify several agricultural sources of alternative energy from a state tax credit program.
Only businesses that produce energy from wind, solar, marine or hydrokinetic sources would qualify for the state’s Clean Energy Incentive Tax Credit under the bill sponsored by Democratic Sens. Roger Manno and Richard Madaleno Jr.
Forest-related resources, waste pallets, landscape or right-of-way trimmings, crop byproducts, biomass and waste-to-energy projects, among others, would no longer qualify.
The Maryland Farm Bureau opposed the bill earlier this month and testified against it at a Feb. 8 hearing in Annapolis, said Valerie Connelly, the Farm Bureau’s executive director.
“We just think (excluded sources) are clean energy… and we don’t want agriculture excluded from clean energy,” she said.
The state department of agriculture has invested in alternative energies through programs such as its Animal Waste Technology Fund. Nearly $1 million from that fund was awarded to a manure-to-energy project at a farm in Rhodesdale that Gov. Larry Hogan was scheduled to celebrate Feb. 13. Connelly said it’s important those projects aren’t funded in vain.
Under the tax credit program, a facility that uses a qualified energy source to produce electricity can apply for a credit certificate from the Maryland Energy Administration. The maximum value of an initial credit certificate can’t exceed $2.5 million, and the amount is based on the estimated energy produced or purchased by the applicant.
The state initially funded the program to award $25 million in credits to energy facilities on a first-come, first-served basis through 2015. That money was awarded and funding hasn’t been refreshed. Hogan’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget also doesn’t include more money for the credit program.
“Should it ever get funded, we want to make sure that ag projects are in the mix and would be eligible for that tax credit,” Connelly said.
Manno could not be reached for comment.