Private industry should pay more of the costs of developing solar and wind power in the United States, according to Energy secretary Spencer Abraham.
WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-05-03 <SolarAccess.com> Abraham told the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior & Related Agencies that some renewable programs have promise, but others “produced few, if any benefits.” His testimony was to defend the government’s plan to cut renewable energy spending by $97 million, or 26 percent over current spending levels. Funding on solar programs would drop from $94 to $43 million, while wind would drop from $43 to $20.5 million in the proposed budget. The U.S. government has spent $6 billion in research for renewables, but the technologies will provide less than 1 percent of the country’s energy for another 20 years, says Abraham, citing estimates from the DOE’s Energy Information Administration. “The industries involved should pick up a greater portion of the tab.” Recent comments by Vice President Dick Cheney that renewables could increase to 6 percent of energy involve a substantial increase from biomass, for which research funds would be increased in the proposed budget. “The dominant energy issue confronting the Department over the next 20 years is the growing disparity between energy supply and demand,” and he says the current events in California “serve as a warning to the rest of the nation of the importance of – or lack of – a thoughtful, effective energy policy.” Energy demand is rising, with particular increases in the demand for natural gas and electricity. “President Bush committed this Administration to develop and implement a new long-term national energy policy,” he says. “Vice President Cheney is working with us at the Department to develop clear strategies to allow environmentally responsible exploration and recovery of our domestic resources, enhance conservation and energy efficiency, and encourage new technology investment in renewable energy sources.” “For those who might argue that we should spend more money on existing energy programs, continuing and expanding programs that have been in place as we drifted to the brink of an energy crisis would not appear a wise course to follow,” he says, “We need a better measure of success than ‘dollars spent’.” “Many of our energy programs are effective and should be continued,” he adds. “On the other hand, the taxpayers sent us here to weed out the waste and to address growing problems of energy supply. The weeding begins in this budget.”