Monday, November 24, 2008

Alternative Energy Lobby Wants Obama to Step Up

Time magazine steps up and pans President-elect Obama's ambitions energy agenda as being woefully inadequate. So much for the political honeymoon!

Time takes up the case of alternative energy producers who, depending on your point of view, are either the key to future sustainablity or rank opportunists looking to gorge themselves at the government trough.

According to Time:

In a press conference last week the leaders of the solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower industries called on Obama and the incoming Congress to look ahead. First, energy leaders asked Obama to immediately adjust the alternative-energy production credit to provide green investors with a cash rebate, rather than a tax reduction. With the economy tanking, simple tax credits — which Congress renewed in October and without which the renewable-energy industry would not survive — aren't the lure they once were for companies looking to invest in new energy projects.

Other items on the renewables industry's wish list: a national renewable-energy portfolio standard, which would require a certain percentage of U.S. electricity to come from alternative sources. (More than 20 states already have similar standards, but a national one would be tricky, given that utility regulation in the U.S. is localized.) Green energy leaders would also like to see an executive order that would greatly expand the federal government's procurement of renewable energy — a smart idea, easily doable — plus a major initiative to update and smarten the nation's aging, overworked electrical grid. That last item is a necessity, if the country has any hope of scaling up alternatives. A report published Nov. 10 by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation found that without drastic investment in a better grid, scaling up intermittent renewables like wind and solar could lead to frequent blackouts. And there's no better way to turn people off of renewable energy than to periodically plunge them into TV-less darkness.

The report cites the International Energy Agency's forecast that demand for energy will increase by 45% by 2030, and a minium cost of $26 trillion will be requied to meet that demand.