The United States has the opportunity to be a world leader in the production of renewable energy. As countries like Germany and China take the lead in the global clean energy race, it is imperative that the United States put in place incentives for clean energy that will allow us to lead this critical 21st century industry. In 2012, wind power was the number one source of new electricity production in the U.S. Renewable sources now account for almost 15% of installed generating capacity in the U.S. and the number continues to grow, spurring investment in manufacturing and creating jobs.
Despite these promising trends in the renewable energy industry, the clean energy industry still requires tax incentives to compete with fossil fuels, which have been subsidized for decades and whose pollution imposes high costs on society. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) provides a per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for electricity and makes renewable energies more cost competitive with coal and natural gas. The extension of the PTC has become a yearly fight in Congress, creating uncertainty in the wind industry and forcing plants to shut down and lay off workers. LCV is fighting to extend the PTC, and other incentives that benefit renewable energies, to provide the certainty that the renewable energy industry needs to expand production and installation.
An additional approach to spur renewable energy is through passage of a federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), which would require that a certain percentage of the nation’s electricity come from clean sources of energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal. Over half of the fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted their own state-level RES policies, and LCV is working to advance clean energy policies with our state LCV partners in three ways: 1) defending standards in states where they have come under attack, 2) strengthening standards in favorable states, and 3) enacting new RES’s in states where none currently exist. While national comprehensive legislation on clean energy is unlikely in the currently divided Congress, LCV is devoting resources at the state level to promote policies that foster the growth of the renewable energy sector, saving consumers money and fighting global warming.
Clean energy and energy efficiency have been high priorities for the Obama administration. There are a variety of programs that are providing the necessary R&D and other incentives to spur innovation and encourage private investment in clean energy technologies. With President Obama’s announcement of a climate plan, the DOE has broadened its mandate to provide financing options and other technical and marketing assistance to accelerate technological innovations for clean energies and energy efficiency. LCV advocates on behalf of these renewable energy and efficiency programs to ensure they receive the necessary funding, especially in these times of tight fiscal constraints and in the face of attacks from polluters’ Congressional allies.
Improving energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to reduce global warming emissions. In an increasingly polarized Congress, energy efficiency bills draw bipartisan support and have the greatest chances of being enacted into law. It's a simple concept: modernize buildings and appliances so that they use less energy, which reduces overall electricity demand as well as the need for additional power sources. Through new building designs and efforts to weatherize our homes, we can cut down on the energy needed for heating and cooling buildings. Similarly, home appliances have become more efficient as part of the ENERGY STAR program and through other efficiency standards. The Energy Independence and Security Act, which Congress passed and was signed into law in 2007, included important provisions to increase energy efficiency. These provisions have proven very beneficial and cost-effective. As a result, numerous bills have been introduced this Congress to further promote energy efficiency by making supply chains more efficient and improving the energy efficiency of government buildings and the manufacturing sector. LCV is working to ensure that these meaningful standards and incentives for efficiency are passed by Congress and implemented in a timely fashion.