Renewables are key component of Obama energy plan

President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on an energy plan that calls for a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard that would require 10 percent of electricity used in the U.S. be derived from clean, sustainable energy sources by 2012 — 25 percent by 2025.

Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois, was elected president over the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Nov. 4. He will be inaugurated president Jan. 20, 2009.

While legislation to implement facets of Obama’s energy plan has not been introduced, Obama’s New Energy for America plan provides a glimpse at what could be ahead.

Obama visited a Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation turbine manufacturing plant at York, Pa., in September. He toured the facility and added hydropower to the list of renewables he said the U.S. needs to promote. (HNN 9/5/08)

In his energy plan, Obama notes that many states already are well on their way to achieving statewide renewable energy goals. The plan says it now is time for the federal government to provide leadership for the entire nation to support new industries. A national renewables requirement is intended to spur significant private sector investment in renewable sources of energy and create thousands of American jobs, it said.

Obama has said he wants to extend the federal production tax credit for renewables for five years to encourage the production of renewable energy. In October, President Bush signed a bill that extends for two years, to Jan. 1, 2011, the in-service date for renewables including hydropower projects to be eligible for such credits. (HNN 10/3/08) Ocean, tidal, and in-stream hydrokinetic projects would have a full three-year period in which to be placed in service to be eligible; they must be placed in service before Jan. 1, 2012.

Obama’s energy plan also calls for strategic investment of $150 billion over 10 years on low-carbon energy sources to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future and create 5 million jobs. Obama also has said he wants to implement a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

While Obama is two months away from taking office, Congress could reconvene for a short �lame duck� session as soon as this month to consider an economic stimulus package. Whether energy issues also will be discussed is uncertain.

Obama to nominate energy secretary

Obama is in the process of putting together his Cabinet and has yet to pick a nominee for energy secretary. However, a number of prospects for the job have been mentioned.

Reuters said names being suggested by Washington insiders, lobbyists, and Internet blog writers include: Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Wesley Clark, retired Army general and former NATO commander; General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jeff Immelt; Ray Mabus, former Democratic governor of Mississippi and U.S. ambassador to the Saudi Arabia; Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming; Dan Reicher, director of climate change and energy initiatives at Google.org.; Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer; and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported speculation also included Silicon Valley Democrat Steve Westly, to push the valley’s vision of a 21st Century economy based on alternative fuels. Westly heads the Westly Group, a venture capital firm focusing on clean technology.

Waxman wants chairmanship of House Energy Committee

Immediately after the election, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., announced he would challenge Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., for chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

�When the new Congress starts in January, we will face unprecedented opportunities and challenges,� Waxman said. �The public expects Congress and President-elect Obama to work together to find solutions to the nation’s most pressing problems. But the issues we will confront are immensely difficult. We will need the very best leadership in Congress and our committees to succeed.�

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