The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Renewable Energy: "Yes We Can"

Changing the direction of the country's energy policy is central to the agenda of the nation's 44th President, and supporting renewable energy development and deployment lies at the heart of President Obama's plan. Most notably, President Obama has called on Congress to pass legislation that would invest US $150 billion in a "clean energy economy" over 10 years potentially creating as many as 5 million green jobs.

Given severe economic conditions, some have expressed concern over the President's ability to deliver on his pledge to promote renewable energy. However, a suite of renewable energy policies will be integral to an aggressive economic stimulus package designed simultaneously to revive the American economy and accelerate the country's transition to cleaner energy. Beyond the stimulus package, President Obama will take further steps to advance a clean energy agenda.

For companies that have experience in renewable energy and those new to the field, the Obama Administration's plan presents promising opportunities for growth.

Form and Substance: What Will the Obama renewable Energy Plan Contain?

President Obama introduced his ambitious renewable energy plan in a speech on January 8th, in which he articulated the details of his economic recovery and reinvestment package. The Obama plan would double the production of renewable energy in the United States within three years and establish a national goal of 25% renewable energy power generation by 2025. While Congress has expressed reservations over the details of the President's proposal, the groundwork has been laid for a dramatic shift in the country's energy portfolio. The President's key energy goals include the following elements:

  • Invest immediately and substantially in renewable energy so as to double renewable energy power generation in the next three years.

  • Increase the country's energy efficiency by modernizing greater than 75% of federal buildings and improving the energy efficiency of two million American homes.

  • Create five million green jobs and invest $150 billion in a "clean energy economy" over 10 years, including the investment in advanced biofuels and plug-in hybrids, development of commercial-scale renewable energy (e.g., solar and wind power) and construction of low-emission coal plants.

  • Build a new electricity "smart grid," thereby saving money, protecting U.S. power sources and delivering clean, renewable forms of energy to all areas of the country.

  • Mandate an increase in the use of renewable energy by implementing a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires 10% of the nation's electricity consumption to come from renewable energy sources by 2012, and 25% by 2025.

  • Reduce by 2020 the use of carbon fuels by 10% and require 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels to be incorporated into the American fuel supply by 2030.

  • Develop and deploy clean coal technology through carbon capture and sequestration technologies and the development of clean coal technology.

  • Establish national building efficiency goals that include making all new buildings carbon neutral or zero-emissions by 2030 and improving the energy efficiency of both new and existing buildings in the next ten years.

At this writing, it is unclear which elements of President Obama's renewable energy agenda will be included as policy proposals in a an economic stimulus package, and which elements will be marked for later inclusion in separate energy or environment bills.

With respect to the stimulus legislation, President Obama and members of Congress are actively debating package details. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce recently approved the energy provisions of the House economic recovery package, including several energy efficiency and renewable energy components. The full House of Representatives has yet to vote on that legislation, and the Senate is still developing its approach to a stimulus plan.

Several Democratic Congressional leaders, including Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), have expressed concern that the President's plan does not sufficiently promote "clean energy" or renewable energy investments. Although details of the stimulus plan's energy provisions remain under negotiation, the package may ultimately include, among other policies: revolving loan funds for energy efficiency projects, extension of renewable energy tax credits, federally guaranteed loans to biofuels projects, and expanded tax benefits for purchases of plug-in hybrids and energy efficient retrofits in private homes. Given the breadth of Congressional negotiations, the legislation may not be ready for President Obama's signature until mid-to-late February.

President Obama's Energy and Environment Team

The energy and environment team that the President announced in mid-December reflects the incoming Administration's commitment to accelerating the country's transition to more renewable energy: Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy; Lisa Jackson as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator; Nancy Sutley as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ); and Carol Browner as Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

In particular, Steven Chu is a strong proponent of "carbon-neutral" energy technology. For Mr. Chu, solving the nation's energy needs involves a two-step process: (1) "maximiz[ing] energy efficiency and decreas[ing] energy use;" and (2) "develop[ing] new sources of carbon-neutral technology." The carbon-neutral technology that Mr. Chu envisions includes photovoltaic cells, cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass and carbon storage and sequestration. Prior to his nomination, Mr. Chu called for tax and fiscal policies that will encourage investment in renewable energy. If confirmed, Mr. Chu will be responsible distributing $38.5 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear and other power plants that would cut greenhouse gas emissions; researching renewable energy sources such as biofuels, solar power and energy efficiency; and implementing many of the Congressional programs contained in the economic stimulus package and energy legislation.

Finally, President Obama's creation of the new White House "Energy Czar" post signifies that the incoming Administration recognizes the complexity of the country's energy needs and is committed to achieving the goals articulated during the campaign and the transition. President Obama has appointed Carol Browner, the former EPA Administrator under President Clinton, to fill this new position. As the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, Ms. Browner will coordinate the Administration's energy and climate policy. In part because this is a new position, Ms. Browner faces a significant challenge in the coordination of several very independent federal agencies with different mandates.

Challenges notwithstanding, the announced plan and personnel of the new Administration suggest pushing for dramatic growth in renewable energy will be a cornerstone of the Obama presidency.

Jay Tannon is a partner in law firm DLA Piper's Corporate and Finance practice and concentrates his practice on international and domestic business acquisitions, direct investment projects and other strategic transactions. He counsels U.S., Canadian, Asian and European private equity funds and other businesses, both public and private, on acquisitions, joint ventures, direct investments, capital formation, and other commercial arrangements. Mr. Tannon has developed a focus on renewable energy. He is counsel to two private equity funds active in the sector and recently helped organize the US-India Renewable Energy Summit. He now serves on DLA's energy practice steering committee.

Catherine Campbell is an Associate in law firm DLA Piper's Regulatory and Government Affairs practice and works on a wide range of regulatory compliance obligations under the Clean Air Act and other federal environmental statutes and their state counterparts. Ms. Campbell previously worked in the Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she collaborated with outside parties on regulatory and innovative initiatives relating to air emissions, among other areas.

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now



A Case Study in Energy-Transition Momentum

Tim King South Australia is clearly at the forefront of the global energy transition as it establishes a fast-moving model oth...

Listen Up: Can I Get Solar if my Roof is Shaded?

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World Rooftop solar panels only work when they are in direct sunlight. So if you have a partially shaded roof, the output o...

US Senate Democrats Unveil Energy Bill That Restores PTC and Extends ITC

Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that would provide more tax credits for renewable energy while killing some tax ince...

US, China Solar PV Players Team Up, Invest $100M in Chile, Uruguay and Japan

Andrew Burger Private equity infrastructure specialist Hudson Clean Energy Partners and Hong Kong-based independent power producer ...


Power Engineering and Renewable Energy World Magazines Name Projects of the Year Awards Finalists

Tulsa, Okla. and Nashua, N.H., Oct. 5, 2015 -- The editors of Power Engineering and Ren...

Sun Xtender® Launches New Website at

The newly designed website for Sun Xtender solar batteries is now live on the World Wid...

Array Technologies Finalizes Shipments to E.ON’s Maricopa West Solar Project

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) has completed DuraTrack® HZ shipments to the 20 MW (ac) ...

Canadian Solar Closes Purchase of Ontario Assets from KKR

Canadian Solar Purchased 3 Solar Power Plants Totaling 59.8 MW AC from KKR


energy efficiency

Beyond the Trend: Maximizing the Impact of Your Energy Efficiency Solution

A revolution is happening in the energy sector. From the new regulations pushed out earlier this summer by the EPA’s ...

Northeast States Create Cap-and-Trade Program for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Northeast states have worked together for several decades to address air quality issues and, more recently, climate c...

Why the Solar PV Industry Should Love Geothermal Heat Pumps Pt 2

It’s a marriage made in heaven: Solar PV and Geothermal Heat Pumps Part 2 of a 6-Part Series Prevailing Heati...

The Whirlwind Known As Tradeshow Season 2015

Wow. What a tradeshow season 2015 is turning out to be! Hot on the heels of Intersolar and SPI, next week we’re...



Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Canadian Solar Inverters Webinar

Canadian Solar is proud to be hosting two free webinars in October! The ...

Doing Business in Europe – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

There is now 128.8 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the EU (appro...


SPI Brings Out The Best In Solar

Phew…...those cross-country flights sure take a lot out of a guy....

Connecting The Dots

One of the most important attributes of a true sales professional is the...

7 Pitfalls Of Simple Payback Period

There are many pitfalls of using Simple Payback Period (SPP) as a measur...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now