What was supposed to be an examination of how tax policy affects fledgling technology was overshadowed yesterday by heated showdowns between a pugnacious House Republican and renewable energy advocates over how to measure jobs and electricity costs from their industries.
House Republicans won’t get the chance they were banking on to grill Energy Secretary Steven Chu about a controversial plan to upgrade transmission in the nation’s power marketing administrations that they suspect will trigger electricity price spikes.
Former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver said Friday that his signature program to support renewable energy research and development has been a resounding success, though less than a third of the money has been spent. Culver said the Iowa Power Fund has inspired investors and energy startup companies to do business in Iowa. He said the program is helping create jobs in some communities, and he said the program’s impact will grow as more projects advance.
With the clock ticking on a bevy of coveted energy tax provisions that are set to disappear at the end of this year, a key House subcommittee later this week will launch its inquiry into how or whether to throw a lifeline to industries that rely on the favorable tax treatment. Energy tax provisions, such as the production tax credit (PTC) for wind that expires at the end of this year, as well as expired programs such as the 1603 grant fund, will be among those considered at a wide-ranging hearing Thursday morning before the House Ways and Means Committee’s subpanel on select revenue measures.
“Chill out – sometimes this stuff takes years.” That was Bill Clinton’s wry observation on Thursday as he addressed a sustainability conference in New York City, expressing frustration over how long it is taking for the country to move forward on clean energy and energy efficiency.
The issue of climate change might be off the table for the upcoming election, but it is probably not dead for long, three political experts predicted yesterday. Discussion about how to limit warming — and even talk about a carbon tax — has a fair chance of resurfacing next year regardless of who wins the presidency, Democratic and Republican insiders predicted as they spoke at Fortune magazine’s Brainstorm Green conference.
Chet Culver’s signature program for renewable energy research and development is off to a slower and rockier start than the former Iowa governor predicted, with a fraction of the money spent five years after its creation, according to a review by The Associated Press. Culver pitched the Iowa Power Fund as a $100 million program that would invest in ethanol, wind, and other technologies to reduce pollution, break the state’s dependence on foreign oil, and add jobs. In a speech when he left office last year, he said the fund “allowed Iowa to become the silicon prairie of the Midwest” and its breakthroughs would secure Iowa’s energy future.
As federal support for clean energy technologies is projected to decline precipitously by 2014, three prominent think tanks are pushing a new pathway that would free renewable energy industries from the boom-and-bust cycle of policy dependence by rejiggering incentives to reward technologies that can compete with traditional fossil fuels absent government support.
Clean energy technology has grown robustly and come down in price in recent years, driven by hefty government stimulus spending, expectations of future regulation and substantial private investment. But that technology is going to fall off a cliff unless government steps in quickly to revitalize the solar, wind, nuclear, battery and clean vehicle sectors with new spending and federal policy, according to a new study from three research groups.
The global wind energy market is heading for a downturn next year as the expiration of the U.S. production tax credit casts a pall on the industry, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said in a new forecast yesterday.