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NEWS RELEASE: Coalition Urges Major Increase in Federal Renewable Energy Budget

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  • Ken Bossong by way of Tom Gray
    SUSTAINABLE ENERGY COALITION 1612 K Street, N.W.; #202-A; Washington, DC 20006 202-293-2898, ext.201 News Release COALITION CALLS UPON CONGRESS TO INCREASE
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2004
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      SUSTAINABLE ENERGY COALITION
      1612 "K" Street, N.W.; #202-A; Washington, DC 20006
      202-293-2898, ext.201


      News Release

      COALITION CALLS UPON CONGRESS TO INCREASE RENEWABLE ENERGY FUNDING
      IN FY05 TO NEARLY $600 MILLION

      For Release: April 6, 2004

      Contact: Ken Bossong 202-293-2898, ext.201
      Karl Gawell 202-454-5264


      WASHINGTON DC -- In a letter delivered today, the Sustainable Energy
      Coalition called upon congressional appropriators to "substantially
      increase" federal support for the cross-section of renewable energy
      technologies.

      Providing technology-by-technology recommendations, the 25 business and
      energy policy organizations proposed increasing the U.S. Department of
      Energy's renewable energy program budget to $598.5 million in Fiscal Year
      2005 (FY05). That is nearly 60% more than the White House's FY'05 budget
      request ($374.8 million) and two-thirds more than the actual FY'04 budget
      ($357.5 million).

      The letter, delivered to the chairmen and ranking members of the Energy &
      Water Subcommittees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives
      Committees on Appropriations, acknowledged "the pressures on the federal
      budget." However, the authors stressed that "renewable energy is growing
      and will continue to grow as alternatives become less plentiful and more
      expensive. On a percentage basis, solar and wind energy are the fastest
      growing sources of electricity worldwide. Geothermal, hydropower and
      biomass play an important role in our electricity mix today and will be
      even more important components of our generation in the future."

      Moreover, "the technologies enabling this ongoing renewable energy
      revolution were developed in the United States. However, lukewarm domestic
      support for incentives and research means that market share, technical
      expertise and thousands of new, local jobs in this sector are increasingly
      moving overseas. This accelerating trend must be reversed."

      The letter concluded that "each of the renewable energy technologies --
      biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind -- have the potential to
      contribute enormous amounts of new, domestic energy to our economy. It is
      time for Congress to put words into action, and fund the Department of
      Energy's renewable energy programs so they can achieve their full potential."

      The complete text of the letter and specific technology budget
      recommendations along with the list of signing organizations follows.

      # # # # # # #

      The Sustainable Energy Coalition is a coalition of more than 80 national
      and state business, consumer, environmental, and energy policy
      organizations which collectively represent several thousand companies,
      community groups, and municipal utilities. Founded in 1992, the
      Sustainable Energy Coalition promotes increased use of renewable energy and
      energy efficient technologies.

      =====================================

      SUSTAINABLE ENERGY COALITION
      1612 "K" Street, N.W.; #202-A; Washington, DC 20006
      202-293-2898, ext.201; kbossong@...

      SUPPORT INCREASED FUNDING FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY PROGRAMS

      April 6, 2004

      The Honorable David Hobson, Chair
      The Honorable Peter J. Visclosky, Ranking Democrat
      Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
      US House of Representatives
      Washington, D.C. 20515

      The Honorable Pete Domenici, Chair
      The Honorable Harry Reid, Ranking Democrat
      Subcommittee on Energy and Water
      U.S. Senate
      Washington, D.C. 20515

      ATTN: Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Staff

      Dear Chairman Hobson, Chairman Domenici, Ranking Democrat Visclosky and
      Ranking Democrat Reid:

      We write to urge you to substantially increase the level of federal support
      for renewable energy programs in the FY 2005 energy and water
      appropriations bill.

      Investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs are a
      cost-effective way to:
      * produce domestic high-tech manufacturing and operations jobs,
      * reduce energy imports,
      * improve national, homeland, and energy security,
      * improve electrical grid reliability,
      * provide environmental and health benefits, and
      * reduce our dependence on energy sources with unsure supply and unstable
      rates for electricity generation.

      Renewable energy is growing and will continue to grow as alternatives
      become less plentiful and more expensive. On a percentage basis, solar and
      wind energy are the fastest growing sources of electricity worldwide.
      Geothermal, hydropower and biomass play an important role in our
      electricity mix today and will be even more important components of our
      generation in the future.

      The technologies enabling this ongoing renewable energy revolution were
      developed in the United States. However, lukewarm domestic support for
      incentives and research means that market share, technical expertise and
      thousands of new, local jobs in this sector are increasingly moving
      overseas. This accelerating trend must be reversed.

      We recognize the pressures on the federal budget. However, we are
      approaching a critical junction in our thinking about renewable energy ­
      either we push these technologies over the last hump to widespread
      commercial acceptance, or our security and economic well-being remain at
      the mercy of other nation’s technology and resources.

      Following are our specific recommendations for FY 2005 funding for
      sustainable energy programs in the energy and water bill:


      Biomass/Biofuels: $100 Million

      Biomass power funding should support cleaner combustion, gasification, and
      digestion technologies for electric generation with biomass. A variety of
      feedstocks should be tested for emissions within these technologies.
      Distributed generation with small biomass systems should be emphasized as
      well. The power and fuels programs should work closely together to develop
      a biorefinery plant that can be operated in the U.S. to produce clean fuel,
      power and chemicals. The biofuels program should add to the existing
      biomass options (e.g., corn fiber) with an expanded focus on cellulosic
      biomass for ethanol as well as biodiesel.

      Accordingly, the Coalition seeks $55 million for Biofuels RD&D program that
      focuses on cost reductions in the production of ethanol through the
      fermentation of sugars and the gasification of cellulosic biomass and
      biomass waste streams for the production of syngases and their conversion
      into biofuels. Areas to be highlighted include:
      1) developing new products for distillers grains and positioning
      corn-to-ethanol plants to accommodate cellulosic biomass for the production
      of fermentable sugars and for the use of residuals and lignin to produce
      both thermal and electrical power;
      2) Accelerating the use of ethanol in E-85 vehicles by optimizing these
      engines for the higher octane of ethanol;
      3) Continuing to work with USDA and DOI -- in locating and funding RD&D
      projects that will convert agricultural and forestry crops and residues
      into biofuels;
      4) Working with EPA in funding their RD&D in developing an advanced
      biofuels spark-ignited engine;
      5) Working with engine manufactures to optimize the performance of diesel
      engines using a no-sulfur, middle distillate produced from cellulosic
      biomass it is possible that this combination will more than favorably
      compete with hydrogen in terms of costs and environmental benefits; and
      6) [see item 4) under Biomass Electric with a focus on the production of
      biofuels].

      The Coalition further asks for a $45 million Biomass Electric RD&D program
      which becomes less line-itemed but directed towards industry
      commercialization partnerships around five technology areas:
      1) gasifiers - maintain a program to validate and enhance performance on
      large and smaller-scale generators,
      2) anaerobic digestion - assist existing industry on standardization,
      replication and integration with a range of biomass-electric generation
      technologies,
      3) heat engines - assist existing industry manufacturers in validating
      systems using biogas, biodiesel, landfill gas, and waste heat,
      4) diesel and reciprocating engines using biodiesels, ethanol and other
      liquids and biogases, and
      5) utility education programs for independent, cooperative and municipal
      utilities on utilization of their biomass resources to stabilize electric
      rates, enhance reliability of the US electric grid, and lower emissions.


      Geothermal: $42.5 Million

      The US urgently needs to develop the technology and resource knowledge
      necessary to tap its extensive geothermal resources base. While the USGS
      estimates the accessible resource base to be at least 95,000 MW, because of
      the high risk and cost of production we are tapping only 2% of this
      potential. Currently, DOE geothermal research program is severely under
      funded. At one time the geothermal research budget was over $150 million,
      but today the program struggles to maintain a bare-bones research program.

      When one production well can cost $10 million, a research program that is
      presently funded at $25.5 million (FY04 budget) is simply below critical
      mass. The DOE research program lacks funding to support cost-shared
      research into advanced technologies, cannot support or undertake critical
      resource assessment, and fails to take the other measures needed to tap the
      huge identified potential of this resource.

      In addition to continuing the base program funding (FY04 budget of $25.5
      million), we recommend: an additional $1.5 million for resource assessment
      - the US geothermal resource assessment is over 25 years old and urgently
      needs updating and DOE needs to be engaged in that update to ensure that is
      uses the best science and technology available; $3 million for direct use
      geothermal efforts, which are directed to expand the utilization of
      geothermal energy for agricultural, commercial, and other uses by building
      upon successful efforts of organizations like New Mexico State University;
      $5 million for an advanced power technology development solicitation, which
      will seek industry partners to develop the geothermal power system of the
      future; and, $7.5 million for "enhanced geothermal systems" technology
      development, work which holds the promise of increasing the geothermal
      resource base ten-fold.


      Hydrogen: $110 Million

      While Hydrogen is not a fuel, it represents an important energy carrier.
      The Coalition stresses that the DOE RD&D be focused on utilizing renewable
      resources, waste heat, and related clean processes to generate hydrogen,
      and to de-emphasize the use of coal or nuclear energy, traditional energy
      resources, for this purpose. Hydrogen RD&D should focus in four primary areas:
      1) Infrastructure and storage to transport, store and safely utilize
      hydrogen: $40 million,
      2) Creation of hydrogen from renewable energy and waste heat (CHP)
      utilizing the many options including novel concepts: $40 million,
      3) Codes and standards development for hydrogen siting and safety including
      public education: $15 M, and
      4) Unique conversion of hydrogen to electricity including primarily fuel
      cells, but also heat engines and NIMH storage systems: $15 million.


      Hydropower: $10.0 Million

      Funding for the Department's hydropower program should be directed to the
      Department's Advanced Hydropower Turbine (AHT) program and its related
      activities. The funding should also support the Department's efforts to
      study other operational and environmental issues related to hydropower
      production, including the potential integration of hydropower with other
      renewable energy technologies, as well as efforts focused on new hydropower
      technologies, such as micro-hydropower and free-flow technologies that
      require no dams or diversions. Funding should also be made available to
      conduct research and development that will improve the technical, societal
      and environmental benefits of hydropower. The Department should be
      directed to disperse appropriated money among these program areas as
      appropriate.


      Photovoltaics: $100.0 Million

      DOE research continues to bring costs down and performance up, fostering a
      domestic high-tech manufacturing base. However, the US is losing share to
      Japan and the EU in this rapidly growing market. A 2001 DOE Peer Review
      concluded that the PV program's work was : "outstanding across all
      activities. doing an extremely effective job of setting priorities,
      balancing allocation of available resources, recognizing and addressing
      critical problems and barriers to progress and commercialization, and
      supporting the quality of work required to achieve its goals. The panel
      notes that the consistently high rankings assigned in this evaluation are
      very unusual, and they are also very deliberate. The panel believes this to
      be a truly outstanding element of the Department of Energy's programs." The
      cost-shared components have been experiencing particular success, doing
      cost-competitive research in coordination with industry, while keeping
      solar manufacturing in the United States.

      This program's competitive environment ensures rapid and cost-effective
      development and adoption of technologies that would not likely emerge
      otherwise. The Building Integrated PV program has attracted Administration
      notice. The FY 2003 Congressional Budget Document trumpets "an exciting and
      rapidly growing solar application which will help cross the profit
      threshold that holds the key to significant growth." Meanwhile, the Thin
      Films Partnership continues to exceed their own worldwide efficiency
      records, with the real, near-term potential of cutting solar prices by half.


      Concentrated Solar Power: $25.0 Million

      Concentrated Solar Power deserves serious consideration and support
      particularly as a bipartisan promotion of Southwestern Governors supporting
      a 1000 MW initiative. The advanced trough RD&D program for electric power
      generation, absorption cooling and water and industrial process heating
      have shown immense promise and should be aggressively continued. Heat
      engine work focusing on validating the 1 MW deployment in Nevada of
      concentrated dish/Stirling engine as well as trough ORC needs broadening
      deployment, Technology validation of the new 1 MW solar trough/organic
      Rankin system in AZ and of the potential 50 MW power purchase agreement for
      solar trough electric generation in Nevada deserves high priority to
      increase market knowledge and acceptance. Finally, continued work on energy
      storage for all concentrated solar power technologies, including solar
      power tower, should received greater RD&D attention and deployment.


      Solar Heating and Lighting: $5.0 Million

      Formerly filed under the "solar buildings" heading, is Solar Heating and
      Lighting. Solar water heating technologies are utilized around the world in
      quantities far exceeding those in the US. Such systems can significantly
      reduce the consumption of electricity, and of natural gas - up to several
      percent in many countries. Within this program, emphasis will be placed on
      reducing the cost of solar water heating - the goal is to reduce the cost of
      solar water heating to 4¢/kWh in 2004.


      Wind Power Technologies: $55 Million.

      Funding would be focused on developing a next-generation wind turbine
      capable of operating in areas with lower wind speeds, thus expanding wind
      development potential by twenty times as well as allowing placement of
      turbines closer to existing transmission lines. Funding also would be used
      to study increased integration of wind energy into the nation's power grid.

      In addition, there would be an enhanced focus on utilization of small wind
      turbines and wind hybrid systems for voltage line augmentation, back-up
      SCADA and other wireless controls and security, and other applications to
      strengthen electric grid reliability using distributed technologies.


      Distributed Energy Resources: $76 Million

      This program focuses on developing a variety of technologies that can
      produce power in buildings and industrial facilities and the additional
      technology required in integrating these together (and with renewable
      generation). The program focuses on Gas Turbines, Reciprocating Engines,
      Microturbines, and Thermally Activated Technologies that utilize waste heat
      and needs to expand significantly into integrating renewable options and
      hybrids. Aside from these technology areas, the program must focus on
      integrated and multi-technology and resource end uses such as fuel cells,
      desiccants, heat engines, turbines, and absorption chillers) in hybrid and
      combined heat and power applications. The focus is both on development of
      the technologies necessary for integration and development of actual
      packaged systems for customer use. These CHP applications can reach energy
      efficiencies of upwards of 80%, thereby eclipsing the efficiencies capable
      in any one technology alone.


      Renewable Energy Production Incentive: $40 million

      The Department of Energy's Renewable Energy Production Incentive (REPI)
      program was created by the 1992 Energy Policy Act to provide public power
      systems and rural electric cooperatives with a counterpart to the tax
      incentives that are available to for-profit utilities for renewable
      generation. Under the program, new solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and
      landfill gas projects are eligible to receive 1.8 cents per kWh of
      production, payable for ten years. The REPI program is invaluable to
      not-for profit utilities in helping them to make investments in these
      costly but critical resources. Over the past decade, however, REPI has been
      underfunded by more than $60 million. The REPI program must be fully funded
      to cover all eligible projects in order to realize its objective of
      spurring increased investment in renewable energy. Short of providing full
      funding, the REPI program requires a minimum of $13 million in the E&W bill
      for FY 2005."


      International Renewable Programs: $10 million

      The Department of Energy has maintained a low level of activities in
      international areas, but in recent years has concentrated primarily on
      international research efforts of interest to the Department. We recommend
      that the Department redirect its efforts towards working to enhance the
      competitive position of US based firms in international markets. With the
      renewable markets being among the fastest growing in the world, DOE should
      be engaging in collaborative efforts with the Department of Commerce and US
      Agency for International Development to ensure that US renewable energy
      products and services are benefiting. Moreover, simple technology
      cooperation by the Department without a corresponding understanding of how
      these efforts affect the competitiveness of US firms may lead to results
      that damage our country's interests. Correspondingly, we propose that $10
      million be provided for international efforts, and recommend that no less
      than $7 million of this total be used for efforts aimed at market
      development conducted collaboratively with other federal and state agencies
      and US industry.


      Public Education: $20 million

      Government alone cannot solve the nation’s energy problems. Gaining the
      cooperation of industry and the public to voluntarily take the action
      needed to improve energy efficiency and to purchase renewable energy
      products and technologies would greatly expedite the commercialization of
      sustainable energy options. Before such actions can be taken, consumers
      must know what it is that they can do to help the nation and their
      communities. Working with state and local governments and NGOs, and with
      the advice of the State Energy Advisory Board, the U. S. Department of
      Energy should be directed to initiate an energy education program to
      provide consumers with information they need to support sustainable energy
      development through voluntary action.


      Renewable Energy Resource Assessment: $5 million

      Resource assessment providing a detailed inventory of the amount and
      characteristics of the various renewable energy resources available is
      critical to making informed decisions about the potential development of
      these resources for a more diversified US energy portfolio. Such
      assessments are needed on a regular basis to take into account changes in
      market conditions, available technologies, and other relevant conditions.
      Such information is currently not available in an adequately detailed and
      up-to-date manner to assist decisionmakers. The provision essentially
      calls for the inventory of renewable “reserves” similar to the extensive
      information collected by the federal government regarding fossil energy
      reserves. This is an inexpensive investment that can have an enormous
      impact in leveraging future energy investments.


      Conclusion

      As President Bush recognized in his State of the Union address, we urgently
      need to develop domestic energy resources. Each of the renewable energy
      technologies -- biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind -- have the
      potential to contribute enormous amounts of new, domestic energy to our
      economy. It is time for Congress to put words into action, and fund the
      Department of Energy's renewable energy programs so they can achieve their
      full potential. We hope our recommendations help you to realize this goal.

      Thank you for considering our views.

      Sincerely,

      American Bioenergy Association
      American Public Power Association
      American Solar Energy Society
      American Wind Energy Association
      Bob Lawrence & Associates
      Breakthrough Technologies Institute
      Burlington Electric Department
      Business Council for Sustainable Energy
      Cascade Associates
      City & County of San Francisco
      Clean Fuels Development Coalition
      Colorado Energy Group
      Council for Photovoltaic Research
      Environmental & Energy Study Institute
      Geothermal Energy Association
      Interwest Energy Alliance
      National Hydropower Association
      New Uses Council
      Potomac Resources
      Sacramento Municipal Utility District
      Solar Energy Industries Association
      SustainableBusiness.com
      The Stella Group Ltd.
      Updike, Kelly & Spellacy
      Vermont Energy Investment Corp.

      ==================================

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