For Renewable Energy Policy, Choose E. All of the Above

Dec12010

As I mentioned on the National Journal’s Energy Blog, tax incentives are part of the solution but must be used with many more and different policies if we expect to build a competitive renewable energy industry in the U.S. that can compete with heavily subsidized programs in China, Japan and India. The U.S. needs policy incentives that both pull deployment and demand and push domestic manufacturing. That means we need federal incentives including manufacturing tax credits, grant programs for deployment, a federal renewable electricity standard with teeth and low cost financing for renewable energy.

Developing a strong and stable clean tech industry in the U.S. requires us to shift our thinking from one policy answer or the other to E. all of the above.

We need to explore low pollution forms of natural gas and encourage the development of solar and wind farms through tax credits. We need to encourage our states to increase their own renewable electricity standards while we wait for a national one. And we need to encourage policymakers, businesses and consumers to demand companies, products and policies that reduce our carbon footprint.

In the midst of a recession we may have to settle for B or C. But that doesn’t mean these policies aren’t a large part of the comprehensive solution. In the short-term extending the successful Treasury Grant Program and a manufacturing tax credit will do much to encourage the continued growth of emerging clean technology. Likewise, increased federal procurement of renewable energy will help lower clean energy costs. But it also doesn’t mean we don’t need A and D - and likely the rest of the alphabet.

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