Energy Feed

Electric vehicle charging in a workplace garage. (Photo by Kay Bell) One of our errands this week was getting the hubby's vehicle inspected. It's required to renew the auto's annual state registration. We get to repeat the process in six months for my car. But when it comes to my Chevy sedan, I soon might be writing the state of Texas a larger check. I drive a hybrid and there's renewed interest in adding an annual surcharge to vehicles that don't rely solely on fossil fuel. Welcome, but pay, please: Sure, Lone Star State officials were thrilled when Elon Musk... Read more →


Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels Inflation is the biggest domestic, and political, concern right now. And after months of waiting, the Federal Reserve's expected reaction to rising prices came last week. The board members of the United States' central bank raised interest rates on Wednesday, March 16, for the first time since 2018. The bump of a quarter percentage point to its benchmark rate is the first of expected increases to combat the country's highest inflation in four decades. When all is said and done, most financial observers say the previously near-zero interest rates to be near 2 percent... Read more →


Homeowners know that keeping a residence in shape is a continual effort. Most of the time, we're just trying to keep things running. That maintenance is necessary, but it doesn't do much for us when it comes to taxes. But if you decide that instead of just fixing that cranky old furnace, it's time to go greener, you could get a tax break. Geothermal heat pumps are just one of the home upgrades that qualify for the renewable energy tax credits. If you took advantage of any of them in 2021, be sure to claim them on the tax return... Read more →


Tanker unloading crude oil (Photo by Hervé Cozanet, Marine-Marchande/Wikipedia Commons) Energy is on a lot of folks' minds right now. Europeans are keeping even warier eyes on Russia's invasion of Ukraine after an attack set off a fire at the continent's largest nuclear power plant. The immediate not horrific news is that there's no sign of radiation leaks at the Zaporizhzhia facility. However, damages to the infrastructure have left the nearly 53,000 residents of the Ukrainian city of Energodar almost without heat. It's unclear what the Russians, who've taken control of the plant grounds, are planning to do with the... Read more →


Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, gasoline prices in the United States were going up due to that Econ 101 basic supply and demand. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more U.S. workers starting doing their jobs remotely. Working from home meant no commuting, so fewer vehicle fill-ups. Oil producers, notably the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) cartel, responded by cutting production sharply in 2020. Since then, things have returned to, for lack of better words, more normal. Demand for oil and products like gasoline has surged since pandemic lows. But production has not kept up. More people wanting a scarce... Read more →


The Senate finally cranked the engine on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, but it's still got a ways to go before becoming law. One good thing about that extended journey is that it should give us time to read the legislative road map, aka the officially titled the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act's 2,702 pages. A bill that size offers a lot of detours. One that's getting some attention is the inclusion of a pilot program for a vehicle mileage tax, or VMT. The possibility of a VMT was broached, then dismissed, in early infrastructure talks. Basically, it's a fee... Read more →


One thing missing from how to pay for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill finally being debated on Capitol Hill is an increase in the federal gas tax. This fuel excise tax originated during the Great Depression as a temporary added penny to each gallon of gasoline. Back then, 1932 to be precise, a gallon of gas cost 18 cents; that's around $2.90 in today's dollars, which is just a few cents more than what I paid this week to fill up my Chevy. Some lawmakers periodically call for an increase in this tax, which goes to the Highway Trust Fund... Read more →


Photo courtesy Zutobi Could it be? Is Infrastructure Week finally happening? Maybe. There are bills and revisions to bills and working groups and bipartisan agreements and partisan criticisms of agreements. The only thing that the, at last rough count, eight transportation-plus proposals floating around on Capitol Hill have in common is that none has the votes right now in either chamber to pass. But things are fluid and could change, for better or worse (depending on your political and fiscal position), at any time. The only certainty is that something must be done by the end of this 2021 fiscal... Read more →


The Biden Administration has made no secret of its support for electric vehicles. President Joe Biden emphasized that commitment, as well as his general love of motoring, when he took the wheel of Ford's new electric pickup truck at the Michigan plant on May 18. Now Congress is following up on the White House electric auto initiative. $5,000 EV credit hike: Part of the Clean Energy for America bill would boost the current maximum electric vehicle (EV) tax credit from $7,500 to a potential $12,500. It cleared the Senate Finance Committee on May 26. The added $5,000 in tax credits... Read more →


During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, airline health protocols got most of the attention. That's not surprising, since when flying, we're all trapped for hours with strangers in a metal tube with recycle air. Now, with more of us vaccinated and ready to get out again and see sights beyond our homes, the travel focus has shifted. It's Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer and a major road-tripping holiday. Highway bound: AAA expects Memorial Day 2021 travel to rebound substantially. The national motoring membership organization predicts 60 percent more travelers this long holiday weekend than last year's... Read more →


Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer across the United States. It's also a time for sales tax free shopping in two states. Here in Texas, my neighbors and I get the long weekend to pick up some water and energy efficient appliances without owing the state's 6 percent and local sales taxes, which could afford up to another 2 percent in tax savings. My friends and former neighbors in Florida also get a sales tax holiday this coming holiday weekend and longer. Last week, the Sunshine State's governor signed into law the state's 10-day-long 2021 Disaster Preparedness... Read more →


President Joe Biden's heart may belong to his 1967 classic Corvette Stingray, but he's working to make Uncle Sam's 600,000 automotive fleet electric. (Photo by Adam Schultz via Flicker) Much of the focus on the new White House understandably has been on President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief package. But Biden also has been pushing his alternative energy plans, specifically a move to electric vehicles (EVs). Just days after his inauguration, he vowed to replace the bulk of the federal government's fleet of vehicles with made-in-America EVs. On Tuesday, March 2, Biden met virtually with executives in the EV charging infrastructure... Read more →


No, there isn't an electric version of Chevrolet's iconic Corvette (because who would want that!), but you have lots of other electric vehicle options that could get you not only a new car, but a nice federal tax credit. There are a couple of television commercials I look forward to every holiday season. There's the Corona Extra "Oh Tannenpalm" spot that's been airing for 30 years. And, of course, there's Hershey's Kisses handbell choir, which has been running even longer. Not as welcome, but as inescapable this time of year are the automaker ads with cars bearing giant bows. I've... Read more →


No gasoline necessary for electric vehicles like this Chevrolet Bolt, which instead is plugged in to recharge for the road. If you opt for an IRS-certified electric auto or light truck, you might get some tax break help on your purchase. Climate change is getting more coverage lately. People are paying attention to what's happening with Mother Nature here in the United States thanks to the opposing environmental takes by the two presidential contenders. On a more personal level for many Americans is that we're in the midst of one of the most active hurricane seasons ever — we're already... Read more →


The Trump Administration plans in the next few weeks to announce a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, according to Bloomberg and Financial Times. The proposed spending on roads and bridges is seen as a way to further jump start the COVID-19 hobbled U.S. economy. The money reportedly would be spent over 10 years, but those familiar with the White House thinking say the plan is still "fluid and could take time." It also would go head-to-head with not only a sizable Democratic highway bill now before a House subcommittee, but also a GOP version that cleared the Senate last summer. Mapping... Read more →


Even in the midst of a global pandemic, some things must go on. Like state sales tax holidays. Missouri's annual Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday, a week of tax breaks on energy efficient appliances, began April 19 and runs through April 25. As the Show Me State's first sales tax holiday of 2020 winds down, Texas' usual spring emergency supplies tax-free event kicks off. It runs April 25 through April 27. Show me shopping where: Missouri residents who need new appliances could save if they opt to purchase Energy Star certified items. The state's 4.225 percent sales tax won't... Read more →


The Family Handyman Millions of Americans are at home now, sheltering in place in order to slow down spread of the coronavirus. One of the side effects of spending more than normal time in your house is that you discover issues. And one of those issues might be, depending on where you live, that your heating or air conditioning system is not in the greatest shape. Maybe you need a completely new unit. I feel your pain. We've had to replace AC systems and it sucks, from both the cost and inconvenience perspectives. Or perhaps you can get by with... Read more →


This is what I paid for a gallon of gas four years ago. It's not quite that cheap right now, but fuel prices here and nationwide are heading down again. Life is full of trade-offs. That includes our tax lives. If you have money in the stock market, the continued declines of asset values are, at best, disconcerting. Uncertainty about the coronavirus, both how quickly it's spreading and questions on how to contain it, have been a major factor in the market's losses. But another factor came into play with today's dive. The biggest oil price crash in decades sent... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


Congress just came up with more tax breaks to wind down 2019 than the number of ornaments we have on our upstairs' mini Christmas tree! (Photo by Kay Bell) Congress finally decorated its Christmas tree early this morning. The ornaments were myriad tax breaks. Or, in some cases, elimination of taxes. With Dec. 25 bearing down and special interest groups sending more requests to Capitol Hill than kiddos' letters to Santa, the House and Senate negotiators finally agreed on, among other things, what to do about those expired tax provisions popularly known as extenders. They OK'ed a handful of them... Read more →