This weekend was a disappointing one for me, as it seems as though the Democratic leadership has decided to move immigration reform legislation before climate change/energy legislation. I've made no secret that I believe the energy legislation should come first. So, in order to try and temper my frustration, I did some research to find out what exactly has already been done by the Obama Administration on energy. You know what? They've done quite a bit.
The Department received $32.7 billion in total funds from the Recovery Act, broken down as follows:
$16.7 billion for saving money through Energy Efficiency, building the domestic Renewable Energy industry, and restructuring the Transportation industry to increase global competitiveness:
- $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program
- $3.1 billion for the State Energy Program
- $2.73 billion for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants
- $2.0 billion for Advanced Battery Manufacturing Grants
- $800 million for the Biomass Program
- $454 million for Retrofit ramp-ups in energy efficiency
- $400 million for the Geothermal Technologies Program
- $400 million for Transportation Electrification
- $346 million for Energy efficient building technologies
- $300 million for Energy Efficient Appliance Rebates / ENERGY STAR®
- $300 million for the Alternative-Fueled-Vehicles Pilot Grant Program
- $256 million for the Industrial Technologies Program
- $115 million for the Solar Technologies Program
- $110 million for the Vehicle Technologies Program
- $104 million for National Laboratory Facilities
- $100 million for Facility improvements at National Renewable Energy Lab
- $93 million for Wind energy projects
- $50 million for Information and Communications technology
- $41.9 million for Fuel Cell Markets
- $32 million for Modernizing existing U.S. hydropower infrastructure
- $25 million for the Massachusetts Wind Technology Testing Center
- $22 million for Community Renewable Energy Deployment
- $18 million for Small Business Clean Energy Innovation Projects
$6.0 billion for U.S. legacy Nuclear Waste Clean up
- $1.6 billion for the Hanford River Site Recovery Act Project
- $1.4 billion for the Savannah River Site Recovery Act Project
- $775 million for the Oak Ridge National Lab Recovery Act Project
- $468 million for the Idaho National Lab Recovery Act Project
- $326 million for the Office of River Protection Recovery Act Project
- $212 million for the Los Alamos National Lab Recovery Act Project
- $200 million for the Liquid Waste Tank Infrastructure
- $172 million for the Carlsbad Field Office Recovery Act Project
- $118 million for the Portsmouth Recovery Act Project
- $108 million for the Moab Recovery Act Project
- $98 million for the Argonne National Lab Recovery Act Project
- $79 million for the Paducah Recovery Act Project
- 474 million for the West Valley Recovery Act Project
- $69 million for the Title X Uranium/Thorium Reimbursement Program
- $54 million for the Energy Technology Engineering Center ARRA Project
- $52 million for the Separations Process Research Unit ARRA Project
- $44 million for the Nevada Test Site Recovery Act Project
- $42 million for the Brookhaven National Lab Recovery Act Project
- $20 million for the Mound Operable Unit 1 Recovery Act Project
- $8 million for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center Recovery Act Project
$4.5 billion to lower electricity costs and increase customer choice through Electric Grid Modernization
- $3.5 billion for Smart Grid Investment Grant Program
- $700 million for Energy Storage Demonstration
- $100 million for Workforce Development
- $80 million for Interconnection Transmission Planning and Analysis
- $55 million for Enhancing State / Local Governments Energy Assurance
- $50 million for State Assistance on Electricity Policies
- $29 million for Program Direction
- $10 million for Interoperability Standards and Framework
$3.4 billion for demonstration that Carbon Capture and Sequestration can compete economically
- $1.5 billion for Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Applications
- $1 billion for Fossil Energy Research and Development Programs
- $800 million for the Clean Coal Power Initiative Round III
- $49 million for Geologic Sequestration Site Characterization
- $20 million for the Geologic Sequestration Training and Research
- $10 million for Program Direction
$2.0 billion for Scientific Innovation in advanced energy technology research
- $400 million for Advanced Research (ARPA-E)
- $277 million for Energy Frontier Research Centers
- $247 million for Basic Energy Services
- $216 million for High Energy Physics
- $198 million for Science Laboratories Infrastructure
- $155 million for Biological and Environmental Research
- $154 million for Advanced Scientific Computing Research
- $143 million for Nuclear Physics
- $97 million for Energy Sciences Fellowships and Early Career Awards
- $83 million for Fusion Energy Sciences
- $58 million for Small Business Innovation Research
Now, I know your first reaction: "Carbon capture and sequestration? You mean clean coal? What a waste!" Well, I don't necessarily disagree. But when you have a sizable delegation of Democrats from coal states, you have to invest in it whether you want to or not.
You may also be wondering what exectly clean up of nuclear waste has to do with creating renewable energy. Well, on its own, nothing. But when paired with this:
The EPA is showing its commitment to using "contaminated", or "brownfield", sites in creative ways to help create jobs for local communities, help the environment, and protect people’s health by using such sites for solar and other clean energy projects now. Such sites include current and former industrial or commercial sites that may be contaminated with small amounts of hazardous waste or pollution. Of course, it is often not easy to use these sites for housing, retail, office, open space, or other purposes, so using them for clean energy is a productive, efficient use of these lands.
The EPA reports that 490,000 such sites, nearly 15 million acres of land exist across the country. 917,000 acres have now been "cleaned up" and agreements have been made with state, regional and Native American tribal agencies in order to reuse these lands for clean, renewable energy.
The inclusion of this program makes more sense.
And this isn't the only way the Federal government is encouraging renewable energy investment. The DOE Loan Program has made significant investments in a number of renewable energy projects. Among them:
Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced conditional commitments for more than $1.37 billion in loan guarantees under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to BrightSource Energy, Inc. to support the construction and start-up of three utility-scale concentrated solar power plants. The new plants will generate approximately 400 megawatts (MW) of electricity using the company’s innovative, proprietary technology. This would nearly double the existing generation capacity of this type of renewable energy in the U.S.
The three-plant Ivanpah Solar Complex will be located on federally-owned land in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, near the Nevada border, and will be the world’s largest operational concentrated solar power complex. Once operational, the project will supply clean electric power to approximately 140,000 California homes.
BrightSource estimates that the construction of this complex will employ approximately 1,000 people, and its operation will create 86 permanent jobs. BrightSource’s construction contractor has entered into project labor agreements with various trade unions for the construction of the project.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today announced that the Department of Energy has offered a conditional commitment on a $117 million loan guarantee to finance the construction and start-up of an innovative 30 megawatt (MW) wind energy project in Kahuku, Hawaii. Kahuku Wind Power, LLC will install twelve 2.5 MW wind turbine generators along with a battery energy storage system for electricity load stability. The loan guarantee is being supported by funds made available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Located on the island of Oahu, the Kahuku project will contribute to Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative goal of meeting 70 percent of the state’s energy needs with clean energy by 2030. Currently, each island uses an isolated electric grid that relies upon the use of imported oil, which currently comprises 90 percent of the state’s energy supply. By harnessing wind power, the project is expected to supply electricity to 7,700 households and avoid the production of nearly 160 million pounds of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.
The project sponsor, First Wind Holdings LLC, estimates that construction of the Kahuku project will create 200 jobs.
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced today the closing of a $528.7 million loan with Fisker Automotive for the development and production of two lines of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). The loan will support the Karma, a full-size, four-door sports sedan, and a line of family oriented models being developed under the company's Project NINA program.
The DOE has made another investment of $200 million is solar and hydropower technologies. These investments include:
Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative: Up to $125 million over five years
Photovoltaic Supply Chain Development: Up to $40 million over three years
National Administrator of the Solar Instructor Training Network: Up to $4.5 million over five years
Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies (MHK): Up to $39 million over four years
And there are strong steps being taken within the 2011 budget:
Among the proposed rollbacks of those fossil fuel handouts are an enhanced oil recovery credit, a credit for oil and gas from marginal wells, and a rule that allows companies to deduct up to 25 percent of income from some oil and gas wells. Repeal of that last deduction alone would raise $10 billion through the 2020 fiscal year, he said.
Similar credits and deductions exist for the coal industry, and the 2011 budget proposal would cut many of those as well. For example, repealing a rule allowing 10 percent of income from a coal deposit to be deducted would raise more than $1 billion through 2020.
The 2011 budget also proposes extending a number of other tax laws, including a $1 per gallon credit for the production of biodiesel and a $0.45 per gallon credit for ethanol. The former was allowed to expire at the end of 2009, while the ethanol credit is set to expire at the end of this year. The government also picked winners with last year’s Recovery Act, which provided $2.3 billion in tax credits for manufacturing facilities of clean energy such as wind turbines and solar panels.
Mundaca said that the Treasury Department and Department of Energy had no problem finding 183 projects to fund with that money, but the cap on funding resulted in two-thirds of the worthy projects being left behind. The president's new budget proposal would add $5 billion more to that pool, and the existing pipeline of technically feasible projects that were previously rejected could provide a quick economic and jobs boost.
And while the WH has encouraged changes in energy production, they've also encouraged changes in energy use & how Americans live:
Last June, FTA announced that it would evaluate New Starts and Small Starts applications on the basis not only of cost-effectiveness (as judged by how much travel time is saved) but also the land uses that the transit project would support and the economic development the transit project would bring about. Approximately equal weight would be given to each of those three factors.
• In December, DOT announced that it would make grants of up to $25 million each for ‘urban circulator systems such as streetcars and rubber-tire trolleys.’ It noted that these systems foster ‘the redevelopment of urban spaces into walkable mixed use, high density environments.’
• In January, DOT rescinded a Bush policy that had required New Starts projects to achieve at least a ‘medium’ rating on cost-effectiveness. That rating relied on criteria that tended to favor longer-distance modes of transit, such as bus rapid transit. Gustafson points out that no streetcars were able to qualify for funds under the Bush measure of cost-effectiveness.
None of this is enough of course. We need a comprehwnsive energy policy if we are to make a significant dent in the climate change problem. But it is important to remember that there are good things happening.