A number of briefings on renewable energy are being offered in Washington.WASHINGTON, DC (US) 2002-02-12 [SolarAccess.com] The Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucuses of the U.S. House and Senate, along with the Sustainable Energy Coalition and the Environmental & Energy Study Institute, will hold a Congressional briefing to discuss the Department of Energy’s renewable energy budget released this week. Participants include Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), Representative Mark Udall (D-CO), Christopher Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute, Joel Gordes of Environmental Energy Solutions, Glenn Hamer of the Solar Energy Industries Association, and Steve Nadel of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The session will be held today (Feb 7) on Capitol Hill. The speakers will discuss the importance of funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, and the contributions of renewables to economic development and energy security in the United States. A comparison will be made with international trends in clean energy research and deployment. Udall, Allard and Dorgan are three of the co-chairs of the House and Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucuses. Flavin will explain the economic impacts of clean energy, while Gordes will discuss national energy security. Hamer will focus on the federal budget for renewables, and Nadel will do the same for the budget for energy efficiency. “The federal government’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs are key components of the nation’s effort to increase security and stimulate the economy,” explains background documents for the meeting. “Clean energy technologies enhance America’s energy security by promoting fuel diversity; harnessing safe and abundant domestic resources and expanding the use of small-scale, dispersed, and passively-safe technologies – all of which can be built and operated without imposing new security burdens on the nation’s energy infrastructure. Furthermore, the clean energy industry supported by these programs have created hundreds of new domestic businesses, support thousands of American jobs, and keep U.S. energy dollars at home.” The National Research Council recently completed a review for Congress of energy research supported by the Department of Energy from 1978 to 2000. It concluded that six programs in energy efficiency will yield US$30 billion in net economic benefits from a total DOE investment of $7 billion. “Modest investments in renewable energy research and development over the last two decades has paid big dividends, such as the price of wind energy dropping more than 80 percent,” it explains. “In addition, photovoltaic modules have lowered in cost by nearly a factor of ten, and the cost of solar systems has been reduced by 50 percent in the last decade.” Last week, the Environmental & Energy Study Institute sponsored a Congressional briefing to examine clean energy tax incentives being considered by the Senate Finance Committee. The committee is expected to recommend energy tax legislation as part of the Senate debate on energy legislation this month. The briefing covered incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as a federal System Benefits Fund. The briefing examined the issue of subsidies with a comparison of incentives for combustion fuels, nuclear power and renewable energy technologies. The renewable energy industry in the U.S. argues that investments are necessary to create a level playing field, and will yield public benefits such as economic development, job growth, energy security, environmental protection and GHG emission reductions. “Clean energy tax incentives are viewed by many as a critical aspect to ensuring that Americans have clean energy choices,” says background documents. The speakers included David Goldstein from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Steve Nadel of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Scott Sklar of the Stella Group, and Sean Moulton of Friends of the Earth. The production tax credit for wind and biomass expired last year without an extension by Congress. A number of proposals have been introduced to extend the credit and to expand it to include solar power, geothermal, open-loop biomass, animal waste, landfill gas, and incremental hydropower facilities. Tradable tax credits, which allow public power to participate in a renewable energy production tax incentive, have also been proposed. The proposals being considered by the Senate Committee cover a range of technologies, including buildings, appliances, cogeneration, fuel cells and hybrid vehicles. A federal System Benefits Fund is being considered, which would collect funds to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.