Published on June 3rd, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan11
GOP Committee Chair & Renewable Energy Leaders Call on Obama Administration to Fast-Track Wind & Solar Energy Projects
June 3rd, 2011 by Zachary Shahan
While the large majority of the Republican party attack and defund clean energy, Republican chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Doc Hastings (R-WA), and a host of big-name renewable energy leaders spoke up this week on the need for the Obama administration to fast-track renewable energy projects (i.e. not make them go through years of bureaucratic red tape). As I’ve written a number of times before, the Obama administration has sped up the offshore wind power process and the process for utility-scale solar on public lands, and some of the renewable energy leaders made the point to acknowledge that, but much more could still be done as well.
At the “American Energy Initiative: Identifying Roadblocks to Wind and Solar Energy on Public Lands and Waters” Congressional hearing on June 1, Hastings declared that he wanted an end to: “bureaucratic delays, unnecessary lawsuits and burdensome environmental regulations [that] impede our ability to harness wind and solar energy on public lands.” Like a typical Republican would, but nice to see him fighting for clean, U.S.-based energy (not Big Oil and Big Coal). Of course, I do wonder if he is just playing lip service to the industry and attempting to make it seem as though Obama isn’t doing enough for this highly popular industry (but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt until I hear otherwise).
- Roby Roberts (Co-Chairman of the American Wind Energy Association’s Legislative Committee)
- Rhone Resch (President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association)
- Susan Reilly (President & CEO of Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc.)
- James S. Gordon (President of Cape Wind Associates, LLC)
- Jim Lanard (President of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition)
- Frank DeRosa (Senior Vice-President of First Solar, Inc.)
- Dr. Martin Piszczalski (Industry Analyst of Sextant Research)
- Dan W. Reicher (Executive Director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University)
Good Progress on Solar Energy Policies — Let’s Keep it Going
“Congress, the Department of the Interior, and the Bureau of Land Management have adopted policies over the last few years that are expediting permitting, removing obstacles, and streamlining interagency coordination, without sacrificing thoroughness,” Frank DeRosa of First Solar acknowledged.
“BLM took another significant step in April to support solar development on public lands with its rule proposing to allow the temporary segregation of lands in a pending or future solar generation right of way (ROW) application. This much needed rule will prevent the use of specious and speculative mining claims to slow down or prevent the development of solar energy projects on public lands.”
But then he went on to address “two primary areas of concern as well as several areas of regulatory oversight that require continued consultation with industry” — the BLM’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for solar energy development (aka PEIS) and solar issues related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Wind Energy Industry Needs Consistent Policies
Roby Roberts of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) also made comments on environmental regulations he thinks are unnecessary and detrimental to the advancement of the wind energy industry. BUT, he prefaced them with a strong call for long-term legislative support for wind energy, something I’ve discussed repeatedly on here (especially last week in the midst of the WindPower 2011 conference). Here’s his bit on that part of things:
The biggest roadblock facing the wind energy industry right now is the lack of a consistent and long-term federal policy to support renewable energy. Despite bipartisan support, tax credits for wind and other forms of renewable energy have been on-again, off-again. The production tax credit, which is the key existing federal tax incentive for wind energy development, expires at the end of 2012. Failure to extend this incentive will result in a large tax increase on wind energy developers that will be reflected in the cost of wind power, making it less competitive with competing sources that also receive federal incentives. We request that Congress block this tax increase and extend the production tax credit for wind energy this year. Given lead times for project development, it is important to act now to avoid a lull in development post-2012. Business decisions for 2013 are already being made.
And, again, despite bipartisan support, there is no long-term demand signal, such as a renewable or clean electricity standard.
Without more stable federal financial incentives and demand-side policies, any changes to make developing wind energy projects on public lands more attractive will be of only marginal benefit, at best.
Hopefully, someone was listening.
Roberts and then Susan Reilly of Renewable Energy Systems Americas then went on to discuss two immediate wind industry threats they think need to be urgently addressed, concerning the Draft Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines and the Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance. Check out their full statements (linked above) for more on that.
The bottom line of this whole hearing seemed to be: the Obama administration has been making progress in helping to grow U.S.-based clean energy industries that create U.S. jobs, help the economy, and help the environment, but that there are still significant hurdles to be overcome and unnecessary obstacles threatening the industries. And that, while Europe and China are steaming forward on some innovative clean energy initiatives (like offshore wind power), the U.S. is still going in relative slow motion.
Related Stories on CleanTechnica:
- World Wind Power
- 3 Key Wind Power Challenges & A Call to Action
- Offshore Wind Power around the World
- U.S. Wind Power Increasingly American-made (Creating U.S. Manufacturing Jobs)
- IEA: Wind and Solar Intermittency NOT a Big Deal!
- Small- AND Large-Scale Solar Needed
- China Wind Power Blowing Up in 2011 (as Expected)
Photo via Duke Energy
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