Group says Renewables Could Resolve U.S. Energy Crisis

A major environmental group in the United States says that the administration of President George Bush is using energy needs as a pretext for assaulting the environment and proposing actions that will exacerbate energy problems.

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, US, 2001-03-26 <> Renewable energy and energy efficiency could “immediately begin to stem the energy crunch,” says the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Conserving energy by investing in energy efficiency improvements is by far the fastest, least expensive way to balance energy demand and supply needs,” says Alan Nogee. “President Bush’s proposals would prolong our dependence on coal and oil, which will only cost us more in the long run by increasing the cost of responding to global warming.” The UCS has criticized Bush for stating that environmental laws were preventing California power plants from operating at full capacity, and for using that state’s power shortages to justify oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife. Oil is used to generate only 1 percent of electricity in California and less than 3 percent across the country. After 40 days in office, Bush said he supported renewables and efficiency but, the next day, proposed cutting the budget of the Department of Energy by $700 million. UCS says DOE’s renewable energy and energy efficiency research could suffer a disproportionate share of the cut. “We need to develop and deploy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that will conserve and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” says the group’s Ron Sundergill.”These programs need federal funding, not lip service.” “America has abundant renewable energy resources,” says UCS. “With today’s technology, wind energy alone could economically provide 20 percent of America’s electricity. A typical wind farm generates electricity within six months of groundbreaking for the project.” Wind farms can generate electricity at 4 cents per kWh, with large new turbines costing less than 2.5 cents. By comparison, recent hikes in natural gas prices have driven fuel costs for older gas-fired power plants past 5 cents and spot market shortages have resulted in prices of $10 per kWh and more. Some states have made commitments to increase total use of wind, solar, geothermal and biomass by 8,550 MW. Sales of residential wind turbines by one company in California were seven times higher in January than for all of last year. Generation from renewable energy in the U.S. fell from 66 billion kWh in 1993 to 49 billion in 1998, as utilities cut costs to prepare for deregulation. “Congress should extend and expand renewable energy tax credits and require energy companies to provide an increasing percentage of their supplies from clean renewable energy sources,” says UCS. UCS was formed in 1969 to link citizens and scientists working on health, safety and quality of life issues.

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