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

US State of the Union 2014: A Back Seat for Renewable Energy

Broader domestic social issues and an international policy that moves away from "a permanent war footing" took center stage in President Obama's State of the Union address (SOTUS) last night. Domestic energy policies, including renewable energy, largely took a back seat to the President's bigger talking points: hiking the minimum wage for federal contractors, urging final immigration reforms, strong pushes in employment and job-training, education, retirement savings, and healthcare.

After a brief initial tidbit -- how more oil now is produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world for first time in nearly 20 years -- domestic energy wasn't mentioned until the half-hour mark, when President Obama referred to the success of his "all of the above" energy strategy. One reason, he said, is because of natural gas which he called "the bridge fuel that can power our economy" with reduced carbon pollution, and he pledged to assist what he described as nearly $100 billion being invested in new factories that use natural gas.

The other reason is renewable energy, and specifically the U.S.' global leadership role in solar, he said, pointing out that a new home or business gets solarized every four minutes -- and "every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job cannot be outsourced." (Those jobs are growing tenfold the national average, a just-released study found.)

President Obama also urged attention to tax reform specifically to benefit renewables. "Let's continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don't need it, so we can invest more in the fuels of the future that do," he said. Presumably this was a reference to proposed U.S. energy tax reforms, but how much those proposals are changed or revised, and how soon in an Congressional election year, probably won't be known for months. Nevertheless that was enough of a foothold for several groups to urge more action in their post-SOTUS reactions. Peter Kelley, AWEA's VP of Public Affairs, noted how far wind energy prices have come down and its contribution to the power grid has gone up, and both should continue "so long as there is continued policy support."

Lastly, President Obama pulled back the discussion to the broader issue of climate change, noting that over the past eight years the U.S. has reduced its total carbon pollution "more than any nation on Earth." Underscoring the nation's commitment to renewable energy, the President acknowledged that "this shift to a clean energy economy won't happen overnight," and vaguely noted that "it will require some tough choices along the way." But he asserting that climate change is fact, and urged that "when our children's children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could, I want us to be able to say, 'yes we did.'"

Here's the official transcript of the President's speech.

The past two SOTUSes had emphasized a focus on renewable power generation, including more development on federal lands (which continues to happen) and a call for action on climate change (which materialized by mid-year in proposed new clean air and power plant regulations). He proposed taking royalties from drilling on federal land to fund renewable energy development of biofuels, batteries, natural gas as a transportation fuel, but little has happened since -- though a version of this plan has been floated by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) as a possible solution to the U.S.-China trade case, taking a slice of profits from imported products to fund domestic solar manufacturing.

Republican responses to the SOTUS energy talking points urged further expansion of domestic capabilities, criticizing administration's regulations for drilling and exploration. Speaker John Boehner suggested energy production has increased despite the Obama administration's policies, not because of them. Republicans also widely pointed to the KeystoneXL pipeline, which received no mentions in the President's speech, as another example that could further ensure America's energy independence.

And finally: in a Cold War-originating tradition, one Cabinet member is kept out of the Capitol during the SOTUS as a "designated survivor" in case of unfathomable catastrophe that eliminates the rest of the government. This year that designee was none other than Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz who now reassumes his place as 12th in line to the Oval Office.

Lead image: Inside view on the rotunda ceiling of US Capitol, via Shutterstock

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


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 $100MM in Chile, Uruguay and Japan

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

CEO Gilles: Challenge in Geothermal is to 'Level Playing Field' with Wind, Solar

Jennifer Delony The current challenge for the geothermal energy industry is what U.S. Geothermal CEO Dennis Gilles calls “leveling th...

NRG Energy to Form Renewable Unit, Sell Wind Assets to Yieldco

Mark Chediak and Matthew Monks, Bloomberg NRG Energy Inc., the worst-performing member of the S&P 500 Utilities Index this year, said it will form a renewa...

PRESS RELEASES Welcomes Jennifer Delony as Associate Editor

PennWell Corporation is pleased to announce that Jennifer Delony has joined the company...

Customized Energy Solutions Executes Agreement with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (“MassCEC”) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) for Important Energy Storage Study

Customized Energy Solutions (CES) has entered into agreements with Massachusetts Clean ...

CleanTX Releases New White Paper on the Future of Texas Solar in Texas

We love this new White Paper from our clean energy partners CleanTX

New Officers and Board Members Announced by IREC

A new slate of officers was elected by IREC's board of directors at its recent annual m...


Hawaii: World’s First Hydrogen Economy?

Can Hawaii become the world’s first renewable energy/hydrogen economy? Hawaii’s small size, isolation ...
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...


Jim is Contributing Editor for, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, ...


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...


The Grab Bag Rides Again

Pregame When I was sports editor for the college newspaper, I wrote a co...

How To Speak, How To Listen

As sales professionals, effective communication is paramount to our succ...

Get In The Habit

We all develop habits throughout our lives. Sometimes they’re bene...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now