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U.S. President Stands Firm on Clean Energy Agenda

Yesterday, President Obama released his 2013 Energy budget, which, according to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, makes critical investments in innovation, clean energy and national security, while emphasizing the President's commitment to an all-of-the-above energy strategy.

The budget request for the Department is part of the President’s blueprint for an American economy that is built on American energy that is cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs. 

"The United States is competing in a global race for the clean energy jobs of the future,” said Secretary Chu. “The choice we face as a nation is simple: do we want the clean energy technologies of tomorrow to be invented in America by American innovators, made by American workers and sold around the world, or do we want to concede those jobs to our competitors?  We can and must compete for those jobs. This budget request includes responsible investments in an American economy that is built to last.”

Specifically the President's FY 2013 budget request for the Department of Energy:

  • Invests in cross-cutting research to lead in the research, development, deployment and production of clean energy technologies; 
  • Promotes efforts to make solar power affordable for all Americans by reducing the cost of solar energy by 75 percent and making it cost competitive without subsidies by the end of the decade;
  • Continues the Obama Administration’s efforts to reduce our dependence on oil by one-third by 2025;
  • Supports groundbreaking basic science, research and innovation to solve our energy challenges and ensure that the United States remains at the forefront of science and technology;
  • Strengthens national security by reducing nuclear dangers and maintaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent; and 
  • Advances responsible environmental management by cleaning up the legacy from the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.

According to a press release issued by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the budget also provides for an extension of the Section 1603 Treasury Program. SEIA said that extension of this program would allow taxpayers to reap the significant economic and energy policy benefits associated with the expanded deployment and use of solar energy.  Other renewable energies would likely benefit as well.

“America’s solar industry appreciates President Obama’s support for extending the 1603 Treasury Program,” said Rhone Resch, President and CEO, SEIA. “The 1603 program has helped leverage over $24 billion in private sector investment in for a wide range of clean energy projects, and extending the 1603 program will create an additional 37,000 jobs in the American solar industry in this year alone. ”

The Energy Department’s complete FY 2013 Budget Request to Congress is available at this link.

The President was no doubt also encouraged by a report released earlier this month that showed that the Federal Loan Guarantee Program was a complete success despite the high-profile failure of some clean energy companies.

According to a statement released by The Center for American Progress:

Herb Allison, former national finance chairman for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and his team of accountants and auditors found that despite the hysteria around the now-bankrupt solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC, this program will cost $2 billion less than initially expected. When the Department of Energy first issued these guarantees starting in 2009, they expected that they would cost the government more than $5 billion. Now Allison and his team of independent consultants find that even DOE's most recent projections were too high, and that the guarantees would only cost $2.7 billion. To put that in perspective, the fossil-fuel industry got a whopping $70 billion in government subsidies from 2002 to 2008. Many of these subsidies have been in place for nearly 100 years. 

The report looked at the program in its entirety, as opposed to focusing on individual investments.  It found that since the vast majority of the loan guarantees were in electrical generation projects, they carried little risk to taxpayers since the utilities that buy the power are inherently stable entities.


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