Congress should pass a renewable electricity mandate and other incentives to encourage renewable power sources separately from climate change legislation, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, said Tuesday. Culver is the chairman of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes the governors of 29 states. “We don’t want these things to get caught up in the broader debate and discussion that will only slow us down,” Culver said.
The coalition released a report on Tuesday that made several recommendations to Congress to develop the wind energy sector. The list includes a renewable electricity standard that requires 10 percent of power to come from renewable sources like wind, solar, and biomass by 2012 and tax breaks targeted at clean energy projects.
The report did not, however, include a recommendation for a cap on carbon dioxide to address global warming, which has been pared with the renewable production standard and tax breaks in legislation Congress has considered.
Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri (R), the vice chairman of the wind energy coalition, agreed with Culver that Congress should set aside the climate debate. The focus of the report was on supporting a domestic renewable energy industry and that advocates should not get “mired down … in this broader debate” on global warming. “Right now, this is about jobs,” he said.
Environmentalists have insisted that incentives for renewable energy and other components of energy policy move together with greenhouse gas reductions. The climate piece is critical they argue not just from an environment perspective. Capping emissions is also key to the development of a clean-energy industry because it puts a price on carbon and makes non-emitting sources like wind power more cost competitive.
Culver and Carcieri warned that other countries would capture renewable manufacturing capacity if the United States does not act soon on the report’s recommendations, and that debating climate legislation could create unhelpful delays.
The governors also call for revamped electric grid through a streamlined siting process for transmission lines to carry the renewable energy from remote areas where it is often produced to the high-population “load” centers that need the power.
Legislation in Congress would give federal regulators greater control of the process. Developers now complain the process is encumbered by the local, state and federal level.
States have resisted broader authority for federal regulators in the past, and the report provides little detail about how the siting process could be accelerated other than to say there should be better coordination between the various parties.
The government should also do more to encourage the development of offshore wind energy resources, the report states.