Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Energy bill should focus on renewable sources

Portland Press Herald

Requiring that more of our power needs should be met by these clean sources would help a lot.

Tracy Allen and Bill Pienta
December 5, 2007

Energy prices and the conflict in the Middle East, combined
with growing concern over the progress of global warming, have
jump-started a long- overdue national conversation about the
direction of America's energy policy.

The public is clamoring for solutions, and there has never been
deeper support for increasing the amount of power we get from
renewable energy.

America is a technologically and economically advanced nation
fully capable of creating an energy system that can fuel our
economy while preserving both our environment and our long-
term security.

But, right now, our nation is failing to take advantage of our
almost unlimited potential to generate electricity from renewable
sources of energy like wind and solar power.

The United States has historically been a leader in the
deployment of renewable energy technologies. As recently as the
mid-1990s, we were the world's leaders in solar power capacity
and No. 2 in wind. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

By 2004, Japan had three times the solar photovoltaic capacity of
the United States, while Germany had more than double the
capacity. And countries with wind resources that are only a
fraction of those in our nation's windiest states employ tens of
thousands in their wind-energy industries.

Fortunately, an expanding number of communities are seeing
the local economic development benefits of renewable energy
and pressing the nation toward a cleaner future.

Farmers and ranchers recognize the benefits renewable energy
provides for agricultural interests and rural economies.

And workers and businesses are beginning to understand that
renewable energy technologies have the potential to create high
quality jobs that will drive our nation into the 21st century.

Already 25 states -- including Maine -- have passed renewable
energy standards of their own, committing nearly half of our
country's population to renewable energy targets as high as 25
percent by 2020.

By creating guaranteed markets for renewable energy, these
policies have helped to jump-start new statewide energy
economies, and we are seeing evidence of the economic

For example, Pennsylvania's clean energy standard has spurred
investment in wind turbine manufacturing, creating four plants
to assemble wind energy equipment for use in the United States
and bringing Americans back to work on the site of a former
steel mill.

As paper mills and manufacturers have too left our state in rapid
succession, investment in clean energy will bring the same
potential to provide Mainers with quality new jobs.

A new report by the Blue Green Alliance and the Renewable
Energy Policy Project found that renewable energy
manufacturing could create more than 4,000 new jobs in Maine.
Beyond creating jobs, developing our renewable energy
resources will save consumers money and bolster rural

A recent study the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the
national Renewable Electricity Standard that passed the House of
Representatives this year, requiring 15 percent of electric
generation from renewable energy sources by the year 2020,
would save consumers up to $18 billion on their electricity and
natural gas bills in 2020 and that electricity bills would be lower
in every state.

By shifting away from fossil fuels, we can establish a diverse,
secure energy supply while reducing global warming pollution.
The UCS analysis indicates the House standard requiring 15
percent renewable electricity by 2020 would cut global warming
pollution by 126 million metric tons by 2020; the equivalent of
taking 20 million cars off the road.

Building on the momentum of the states, it is now time for
Congress to act and pass a final energy bill that includes the
renewable electricity standard. It is critical that the House and
Senate include a renewable electricity standard of at least 15

By supporting this legislation in the final energy bill, Sens.
Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins can help build a cleaner and
more secure economy for America, while reducing global
warming pollution and making the United States the world's
clean energy leader once again.

— Special to the Press Herald

Copyright © 2007 Blethen Maine Newspapers


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