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House GOP Slash Wind and Solar Investments, Then Complain About Roadblocks

By Public Lands Team  

"House GOP Slash Wind and Solar Investments, Then Complain About Roadblocks"

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By Jessica Goad, Manager of Research and Outreach, Public Lands Project, Center for American Progress.

Yesterday, House Republicans called a hearing on renewable energy in the Natural Resources Committee to review roadblocks to wind and solar development, which had been postponed twice. Witnesses from the solar and wind industries testified on obstacles to development on public lands, and all unanimously agreed that financing and budget cuts were the major impediments. When asked by Ranking Member Ed Markey (D-MA) whether they would like to see clean energy programs restored after severe budget cuts, every witness answered “yes”:

MARKEY: Would you like to see the loan guarantees for renewables restored?

WITNESS #1: From an industry perspective, yes

WITNESS #2: Yes we would, we think that a level playing field could tremendously help.

WITNESS #3: Absolutely yes.

WITNESS #4: In bold 72-font underlined yes.

WITNESS #5: Absolutely, critical program.

WITNESS #6: Yes.

WITNESS #7: Yes, the incentives do make a big difference.

WITNESS #8: Loan guarantees, with credit subsidies, absolutely.

Watch it:

 

The witnesses were Roby Roberts, Co-Chairman, Legislative Committee, American Wind Energy Association; Susan Reilly, President & CEO, Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc.; James S. Gordon, President, Cape Wind Associates, LLC; Jim Lanard, President, Offshore Wind Development Coalition; Rhone Resch, President and CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association; Dr. Martin Piszczalski, Industry Analyst, Sextant Research; and Dan Reicher, Executive Director, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University.

Rather than addressing this challenge, the GOP continually votes to slash funding to renewable programs. For example, House Republicans’ H.R. 1 would have almost completely eliminated the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee program, which one witness called “essential to support job creation and economic development opportunities in many states.”

H.R. 1 also contained massive cuts to the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior, such as slashing research, development, and innovation programs by 28 percent, which are critical to helping new technologies come to scale and get built. It also made tens of millions of dollars in cuts to programs at the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service that would put efficient permitting of renewable energy projects on public lands at risk.

On the flip side, the GOP has voted almost unanimously at least three times to protect subsidies to oil companies. In February, the House GOP defeated an amendment that would have ended loopholes enjoyed by the oil industry. In March, House Democrats offered a Motion to Recommit on a spending bill that would have cut subsidies to the five largest oil companies, but not one Republican voted for the bill. And in May, House Republicans rejected told an effort to bring up a bill that would end one of the major take breaks to oil companies.

Any real attempt to overcome roadblocks for wind and solar development will need to address the issue of funding, as both the wind and solar industries testified to. That means extending the Production and Investment Tax Credits, supporting a green bank, and extending the Loan Guarantee Program. These are the policies that will spur solar and wind projects on public lands and lead to strong, responsible renewable energy development.

Transcript:

MARKEY: Would you like to see the loan guarantees for renewables restored?

ROBY ROBERTS, Co-Chairman, Legislative Committee, American Wind Energy Association: From an industry perspective, yes

SUSAN REILLY, President & CEO, Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc.: Yes we would, we think that a level playing field could tremendously help.

JAMES S. GORDON, President, Cape Wind Associates, LLC: Absolutely yes.

JIM LANARD, President, Offshore Wind Development Coalition: In bold 72-font underlined yes.

RHONE RESCH, President and CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association: Absolutely, critical program.

FRANK DeROSA, Senior Vice-President, First Solar, Inc.: Yes.

DR. MARTIN PISZCZALSKI, Industry Analyst, Sextant Research: Yes, the incentives do make a big difference.

DAN W. REICHER, Executive Director, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University: Loan guarantees, with credit subsidies, absolutely.

MARKEY: The Republican budget also cut the clean energy programs, the alternative to oil programs by 70 percent. Would you like to see that money restored for the clean energy programs that was cut out of the Republican budget?

ROBERTS: I’m not familiar with those programs.

REILLY: Yes we would.

GORDON: Yes we would.

LANARD: Yes we would.

RESCH: Absolutely

DeROSA: Yes.

PISZCZALSKI: Yes, with better targeting.

REICHER: Yes.

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