Steve Leone, Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
November 11, 2011 | 25 Comments
New Hampshire, USA -- Unless you're Rick Perry, the word "energy" seems to be on the tip of everyone's tongue these days.
The former GOP presidential frontrunner admitted he “stepped in it” during Wednesday’s televised debate when the bumbling governor just couldn’t remember that if elected he’d eliminate the United States Department of Energy. For Perry, the DOE is now fair political game because of … uh … uh … what’s that solar company’s name again?
But epic gaffe and dwindling poll numbers aside, Perry recognizes the political fuel of the moment — and that’s the public’s growing wariness of federal subsidies given to all forms of energy. Perry himself has said that we shouldn’t be picking “winners and losers.” Of course, he’s never really mentioned the reality behind his statement. By his definition, eliminating all subsidies really means we’re going to let those that support renewable technologies expire. Subsidies that have benefited the oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear industries for decades are written into tax law and require removal by Congress. Anyone think that’s going to happen?
So this is what’s now at stake, and it no longer feels like a game to score political points. The investigation of the Department of Energy loan program has become such a cause célèbre that it threatens all renewable industries in some way. Maybe this was the thought all along from the moment House Republicans pounced on the DOE. Or maybe this is just a natural consequence of a political and media atmosphere capable of painting issues only in black and white.
The result is a hazy horizon. And there’s nothing project developers hate more than haze. So now it’s looking like we’re heading into a period of project limbo on many fronts. Here’s a look at five industries and some of the policy struggles they face.