Energy Secretary’s Speech Leaves Renewables Companies Wondering

A major speech by U.S. energy secretary Spencer Abraham signals a potential change in policy on renewable energy.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-03-21 <SolarAccess.com> America faces a major energy supply crisis over the next two decades, and Abraham used his speech to outline the challenges in solving the energy crisis. His comments included highlights from an interim report that was submitted to President Bush when Abraham and other members of the Energy Task Force met with the President this week. “The failure to meet this challenge will threaten our nation’s economic prosperity, compromise our national security, and literally alter the way we live our lives,” he says. “This Administration is fully prepared to face this dire situation, which we inherited, by developing something this country hasn’t seen in years a comprehensive, long-term national energy policy.” Demand for natural gas and electricity is rising rapidly, and supply is not keeping pace with this demand because of regulatory limits that discourage investments in new facilities. Bush has asked the National Energy Task Force to define a clear energy strategy that will allow environmentally responsible exploration and recovery of U.S. domestic resources; enhance the country’s commitment to conservation and energy efficiency; and encourage investment in new technology to further the development of renewable energy sources. The belief that the United States can forego traditional sources of energy and meet rising energy demand by harnessing wind, geothermal, solar and other forms of renewable power is “a myth,” he explained. Excluding hydro-power, renewable sources currently generate 2 percent of electricity in the U.S. “Billions have been invested in developing renewable energy and will continue to be invested under the Bush Administration,” he said. “But renewables have yet to overcome the economic advantages of conventional energy sources.” “Even with promising advances in research and development, renewables will only provide about 6 percent of our total electricity consumption by 2020,” he said. “Even if renewables exceed our most optimistic expectations, they would still supply only a fraction of our needs over the next 20 years.” Abraham also said price controls are not the answer to the energy crisis, and said the Bush Administration does not support them because they will cripple incentives for new investments in energy supply.

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