Renewables groups call for $30 billion U.S. investment

The National Hydropower Association and other renewable energy associations are calling for the U.S. government to invest $30 billion during 2009 on new project development and installations of all renewable energy technologies.

Representatives of the NHA, the American Wind Energy Association, Geothermal Energy Association, and Solar Energy Industries Association called for the $30 billion investment Nov. 13. They said that investment would help the administration of President-elect Barack Obama meet its commitment to invest $150 billion over 10 years on low-carbon energy sources. Obama pledged to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future and create jobs. (HNN 11/11/08)

The trade organizations did not specify investment amounts to individual technologies. However, some of the $30 billion could be used to supplement the production tax credit for renewables to better promote deployment of those projects. The representatives also agreed that some of the money, which would be invested during the 2009 fiscal year that began Oct. 1, could go to other areas such as research and development, and longer-term loan programs.

In their statement, the associations identified top priorities for the Obama administration and new Congress. They added the new administration and 111th Congress need to take action to ensure the renewable industries’ growth continues, given current economic realities.

Priorities mirror Obama’s New Energy plan

Several priorities mirror the New Energy for America plan proposed by Obama during his presidential campaign.

For example, the renewable energy industries’ top priorities include support for a federal renewables portfolio standard. The RPS would ensure that at least 10 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from renewable energy sources by 2012, and at least 25 percent by 2025, as Obama has suggested.

The groups also support Obama’s proposal for a minimum five-year extension of renewable energy production tax credits and more funding of the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program to encourage renewable energy production. They did not identify an amount for the bond program.

Other priorities identified by the groups include:
o An executive order expanding federal procurement of renewable energy generation;
o An initiative to support investment in the interstate electrical grid infrastructure and smart-grid technology to deliver electricity from areas with renewable resources to population centers; and
o A �cap-and-trade� regime to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that rewards generation of energy from renewables.

�If the administration and Congress can quickly implement these policies, renewable energy growth will help turn around the economic decline while at the same time addressing some of our most pressing national security and environmental problems,� the groups said. �Expansion of renewable energy production will mean billions of dollars in economic growth, millions of new jobs, enhanced energy security as we increase domestic energy production, and critically important progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.�

Representatives also participated in a teleconference call, expanding upon their statement. NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci presented an overview of the hydro industry, and spoke of growth opportunities for existing hydro, pumped-storage, and new technologies. She also discussed how new projects are generating jobs, including those in service industries.

�Hydropower can help keep America working,� Ciocci said.

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