Senator Calls for Renewable Energy

At the American Council for Renewable Energy’s (ACRE) second annual conference, held last week in Washington D.C., Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) praised renewable energy technology as the best means of achieving energy independence in the 21st Century. He said that solar, wind, and geothermal power could allow the country to pursue a foreign policy foreign policy based on national ideals and interests, as opposed to where oil reserves happen to lie.

Washington, D.C., July 14, 2003 [] Working to boost the nation’s security while improving his state’s economy, Reid encouraged top leaders in the renewable energy field to focus research and development efforts on both the state and federal levels, as he addressed the packed conference hall last week. “There are two reasons I support renewable energy,” said Reid. “It’s good for America because it will bolster our national security and protect our environment. And it’s good for Nevada because it will create jobs in our state, and provide consumers with a steady, reliable energy supply.” “We must do it so our economy can keep growing, without being held hostage to oil-producing foreign powers,” said Reid. “Of course, we will continue to explore and extract our own petroleum resources in ways that don’t damage our environment. But no matter what anybody says and no matter how efficiently we extract our own oil, the United States cannot drill its way to energy independence. We currently use 25 percent of the petroleum produced in the world, yet we hold only 3 percent of the known reserves. We can’t create more oil under the ground. So we have to do a better job of conserving energy and finding alternative sources.” “Fortunately, the United States is blessed with many energy resources in addition to fossil fuels,” said Reid. “Many of our mighty rivers produce hydroelectric power, but that is not enough. We must also harness the brilliance of the sun, the force of the wind, and the heat within the earth itself. By using these bountiful resources, we will reduce pollution and protect the air we breathe. By diversifying our energy supply, we will reduce volatility, and protect consumers from wild price swings. And let’s never lose sight of the fact that renewable energy will make our nation more secure, because it’s made in the U.S.A.” Reid wants the nation to see Nevada as a proving ground for renewable energy and not a dumping ground for nuclear waste. He said that Nevada has great potential for solar and wind power. “Nevada has adopted one of the most aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standards of any state. It requires us to produce 5 percent of our electricity with renewable sources, not counting hydropower, by the end of this year. In ten years, the goal jumps to 15 percent,” said Reid. “We already have developed 200 Megawatts of geothermal power, with a long-term potential of more than 2,500 Megawatts.” According to Reid, Utilities in Nevada have signed contracts to provide 205 Megawatts of wind power in two years, and an additional 90 Megawatts is proposed. He estimates that Nevada could potentially produce more than 5,700 Megawatts from wind power and meet their entire electricity needs with geo-thermal and wind. “Developing these renewable resources will boost Nevada’s economy by providing a steady supply of electricity,” said Reid. That’s the beauty of renewable energy … it’s as old as the wind, as steady as the sun, as durable as the earth. And no other nation can manipulate the price of renewable energy.” “We need to set our sights higher in terms of fuel efficiency,” said Reid. Reid is hopeful that the energy bill currently before the Senate will set a national goal for deploying clean renewable energy. He believes that any tax incentive for renewable energy should encourage new capacity, and provide equitable treatment among energy technologies. Reid cited a growing consensus within Congress and the Administration that the U.S. should support research and development on the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier. “Hydrogen has some obvious advantages over electricity: it can be transported farther, and stored until it’s needed. President Bush’s $1.2 billion initiative to put hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road within 20 years is an intriguing proposal, but renewable energy has to be part of the equation,” said Reid. “Hydrogen fuel burns clean. But if we burn coal to produce hydrogen fuel, we will negate the environmental advantage.” “Now, what about using clean, renewable energy to produce clean-burning hydrogen?” asked Reid. “That is a vision worthy of a great nation like the United States.” “Renewable energy will reduce greenhouse gases,” said Reid. “It will help us achieve Energy Independence. It will create jobs, and provide a steady, reliable supply of electricity. In short, renewable energy must be a cornerstone of our national energy policy for the 21st Century.”
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