In response to Dr. Canara:
Renewables now account for about 16% of installed generating capacity and 13% of actual net electrical generation. Renewables accounted for about 37% of new generating capacity in 2013. During 2013, non-hydro renewables increased their actual electrical generation by approximately 18% over 2012 levels.
Good question re. whether the renewable energy numbers include distributed residential and commercial systems. It is my understanding that net-metered systems are included in data compiled by EIA for electrical generation but not systems that are not grid connected. EIA has, in the past, acknowledged that renewable energy - particularly solar - is understated for this reason by some amount. That amount is probably relatively small but it is an issue of interest to the SUN DAY Campaign and one which we plan to explore in the very near future. I believe the FERC data on capacity additions does not include very small distributed systems, whether or not net-metered ... but again, this is unclear from info previously provided by FERC.
While the energy bill contains some positive provisions for energy efficiency as well as solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, hydropower, and fuel cells, they are mostly short-term and inadequate, and therefore will fail to tap the full potential of sustainable energy options. On the other hand, the bill is heavily tilted in favor of - and provides the lion's share of $14 billion in subsidies for - mature, polluting energy technologies. Consequently, rising energy imports, climate change, and reliance on polluting fossil fuel and nuclear technologies will continue to threaten the nation's economy, national security, public health, and the environment. None of these problems will go away. None will be solved by the new energy bill. In fact, all may well be made worse by it. It's time for Congress to return to the drawing board and produce real energy legislation.
Looking at the voting pattern of most congressional Democrats versus most Republicans, there is a clear line in the sand with the Democrats overwhelmingly favoring policies more sympathetic to efficiency and renewables. In that regard, David's analysis is correct. However, even if the Democrats had been able to incorporate all of their major recommendations, the end result would still be a bill that does not sufficiently alter the nation's energy policies. The U.S. needs to embark on a path that drastically reduces greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., 80% by mid-century) while phasing out nuclear power and most energy imports. Few Democratic proposals would do more than make baby steps in those directions. So while the Republicans, in the main, are advancing energy policies that are dangerous to the environment, public health, the economy, and national security, the Democrats are only putting forth alternatives that - while significantly better - are still completely inadequate.