Bush administration ‘best thing to ever happen’ to renewables

I would like to hear from folks on whether they agree with Think Energy’s founder and CEO Mark Crowdis, who impressed and somewhat depressed me with his comments and insight.

The George W. Bush administration “was the best thing that ever happened to the renewable energy industry,” Mark Crowdis, founder and CEO of Think Energy, an environmental consulting firm headquartered in Silver Spring, Md., said during a renewable energy financing panel discussion Feb. 24 at the Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America, held in Austin, Texas.

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The Bush administration’s antagonistic position on renewable resources played a part in the flurry of state renewable portfolio standards and federal policies promoting clean energy resources. That’s not to say that all of them have or will be effective in terms of getting more renewable projects online. “RPSs can be like Swiss cheese,” Crowdis said. Some states initially passed versions that enable utilities to avoid investing in or acquiring new renewable energy resources. He added, however, that several states have revised their RPSs to strengthen their requirements. Crowdis is skeptical that a federal renewable energy standard can be enacted as well. Congress is considering including nuclear energy as a renewable energy resource, “and I don’t think it should be a renewable,” he said. Echoing most of the industry experts who spoke during the three-day conference, Crowdis doubted that a cap-and-trade bill will be passed by Congress this year. “If it is, it will be a mere footnote,” he added. Indeed, he said President Barack Obama’s administration has not been good for renewables. “He has a tacit approach towards renewables,” he said. Crowdis noted that during the recent State of the Union address Obama said that he supports clean energy, namely clean coal, nuclear and natural gas, but failed to mentioned wind, solar or other renewable resources.

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Jennifer Zajac has covered the U.S. electric power sector for more than eight years and was founder/editor of SNL Energy's Renewable Energy Week, a newsletter devoted to the utility renewable energy market in North America. Currently, she covers EPA policies that impact the power industry and is working on a masters' degree in Global Energy Management at the University of Colorado-Denver.

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