New Legislation Affecting Energy Issues...
2015 Legislative Session Review

There were several bills dealing with energy issues during this year's legislative session. Two of them directly involve the Nebraska Energy Office.

The Clean-burning Motor Fuel Development Fund was created in Legislative Bill 581, and will be used to provide rebates on qualified clean-burning motor vehicle fuel conversions and property purchases. However, the Nebraska Energy Office is urging Nebraskans to wait until guidelines are issued under the program, to make a qualifying purchase or conversion.

The rebate will be available to those who convert a vehicle that runs on gasoline or diesel fuel, to run on a qualified clean-burning fuel. Owners of qualified vehicles can apply for the rebate as long as the applicant has not claimed another grant or rebate under any other state grant or rebate program. The rebate will be the lesser amount of $4,500 or 50 percent of the cost of conversion.

New purchases of vehicles that already run on clean burning fuel will also qualify for a rebate. It will apply to the cost of the fuel tank, fuel lines and exhaust and will be the lesser amount of $4,500 or 50 percent of the cost of those items.

A rebate is also available for new home-fill stations for the compression and delivery of natural gas, and flex-fuel dispensers that provide ethanol-blended fuels containing at least 15 percent ethanol. The rebate will be the lesser of $2,500 or 50 percent of the cost of the new property.

More information will be available after August 30, 2015, when the legislation takes effect. Nebraskans are urged to wait until guidelines for the program are issued, to ensure they qualify for the rebate. Rebates will not be given to purchases that do not meet the guidelines.

The Nebraska Legislature passed Legislative Bill 469, which directs the Nebraska Energy Office to develop a comprehensive state energy plan and provides funding to assist with the development of the energy plan. This legislation aligns with strategies that agency Director David Bracht and Governor Pete Ricketts have discussed.

The integrated state energy plan will help set the course for future development of Nebraska's diverse energy resources, and meet the needs of our citizens and businesses. The establishment of a forward looking plan is a good businesses-like approach to assure Nebraskans are preparing for the future. The energy marketplace is changing dramatically with different resources being made available and federal regulations being imposed.

The process for a State Energy Plan will start with the review of energy plans from neighboring states including the format and what is covered. We also will seek stakeholder input as to what information to include, and what information is already gathered for other purposes, along with public input as the plan is developed.

The bill also requires the Energy Office to conduct an assessment on any state plan developed by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality that regulates carbon dioxide emissions from covered electric generating units under section 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act.

More information about the planning process will be made available after August 30, 2015, when the legislation takes effect.

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