Tag Archives: Renewable Portfolio Standard

The Oil And Gas Industry’s Assault On Renewable Energy

This commentary was originally posted on our EDF Voices blog.

Source: ali_pk/flickr

Renewable energy enjoyed a record year in 2012 – the U.S. wind industry surpassed 50,000 megawatts of electrical power generation capacity and solar proved once again to be the fastest growing energy source in the United States. That's a milestone worth celebrating, since greater use of clean, homegrown energy resources creates jobs, cuts foreign oil imports, stabilizes prices, makes our system more resilient and reduces harmful pollution. The list of benefits is vast. So who could possibly be upset?

Well, some utilities that own old and often dirty fossil fuel power plants are upset that renewables are making it harder for their older, polluting units to stay in business. Then there are oil and gas industry association leaders like American Petroleum Institute (API) president Jack Gerard, who often talk about wanting a “level playing field” – implying that policies promoting renewable energy are unfair to fossil fuels.

Don’t be fooled. Renewable investments pale in comparison to the amount of money poured into fossil fuel companies since 1918 to fatten their bottom lines and crowd out competition. Fossil fuels have received around 75 times more subsidies than clean energy. Up to 2011 (adjusted for inflation), the oil and gas industry received $446.96 billion in cumulative energy subsidies from 1994 to 2009, whereas renewable energy sources received just $5.93 billion. An industry that has been enjoying federal tax subsidies for over a century has no standing to argue for a level playing field.

Heavily subsidized fossil fuels may have made sense 100 years ago, when we were racing to build the energy infrastructure of the last century. But today we're racing to build the clean energy infrastructure of the new century — and we need to support a new set of industries. And we're making real progress.

So it is no surprise that we are seeing a well-funded, industry-backed effort to roll back the policies that have been so successful in developing and deploying renewables. Take, for example, the latest assault on a series of state laws around the country that have increased the amount of clean, renewable energy these states produce.

Front Groups do the Dirty Work for Oil and Gas Industry

So far, 29 states have implemented Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) programs that require increased production of energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. They’ve been adopted in red states and blue – from California to Texas to Maine – through democratic processes and with popular support. RPS programs have helped jumpstart an industry that is spurring economic development, creating American jobs, boosting energy independence and cutting our carbon footprint.

A Bloomberg article released last week details how the oil and gas industry, through some self-described free market organizations that they fund, are trying to engineer a legislative massacre of these policies in more than a dozen states.

The groups may sound familiar: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is currently pushing legislation around the country that would mandate the teaching of climate change denial in public school systems, and The Heartland Institute, which ran a billboard campaign last year comparing global warming "admitters" to Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson. Both have long opposed sensible energy policies. And their funders will sound familiar, too: the oil, gas and coal industries and their owners like the Koch Brothers.

Read More »

Posted in Climate, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy| Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Colorado: A Case Study In Clean Tech Planning And Execution

In a recent posts, we revisited the recent trio of reports of the clean energy clusters in Ohio, Iowa and Colorado and shared some insights on lessons learned from Iowa and Ohio.  In this post, we'll take a look at Colorado.

Colorado is the 12th windiest state in the U.S. and is currently 9th in installed wind capacity. It's one of only six states that have exceeded 10% of state generated electricity coming from wind.  For more than a decade, Colorado has been atop most lists for states vying for leadership in the clean energy economy.  It has research labs, a proactive state government, universities and active economic development efforts.  All of these have combined to help Colorado excel in the new energy landscape.

Consider that Golden, CO is home to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the only federal lab dedicated to research, development, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technology.  For more than 30 years, NREL has been working on advancements in solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources.  NREL, Colorado universities and private companies have leveraged the hometown lab to establish specialized research centers in several of these areas and contribute more than $700 million in the economic activity of Colorado each year.

The Denver-metro area, where our report focuses, has become a particularly popular place for cleantech startups and more mature companies.  In 2011, the region had about 1,500 companies and 18,000 employees in the cleantech industry, a 35% increase in direct employment growth from 2006. In terms of the entire Colorado workforce, cleantech employees account for 1%.  But that's twice the national average and generates more than a billion dollars in annual wages. Read More »

Posted in Renewable Energy| Also tagged , , | Comments closed

30 Years Of Forward-Thinking Leaders Has Spurred Iowa's Clean Tech Growth

People who haven’t been following the renewable energy industry will be forgiven for their reaction when they’re told that Iowa is among the most advanced, opportunistic state in the cleantech economy.  “Iowa?  Isn’t that corn country?”

Well, yes.  But it’s also wind country.  And like few other states, Iowans have turned their constant breeze into a powerful economic force.

This is the last in a trio of posts highlighting the findings from EDF’s reports on the cleantech economies of Ohio, Colorado and Iowa (here is my last post on Ohio).  Today, I’ll focus on Iowa.

Despite its size, Iowa produces the second most wind power in the U.S. (Texas is #1 and California is #3) and is one of only two states that receives over 20% of its electricity from wind power.  More impressive has been the state’s ability to capture the economic — not just the environmental — benefit of that ranking.  According to the American Wind Energy Association, Iowa has attracted more major wind industry manufacturers than any other state.  It’s a great example of supply meeting demand.

Politically, wind power has been supported by both parties for three decades.  It was the first state to pass a Renewable Portfolio Standard, under republican Governor Terry Branstad in 1983.  In 2005, democratic Governor Tom Vilsack signed a tax credit for renewable energy production.  And in 2007 democratic Governor Chet Culver created the Iowa Power Fund to invest in local renewable energy research and development projects.  This level of across-the-aisle cooperation is unique among states and has given Iowa a considerable advantage in competing against larger and richer states. Read More »

Posted in Renewable Energy| Also tagged , , | Comments closed