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Renewable industry critical of Reid energy bill

Facing opposition from the entire Republican Senate Delegation, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has revealed plans to put comprehensive energy legislation, including cap and trade and renewable portfolio standard provisions, on hold, choosing instead to introduce a scaled back version tackling less controversial issues.

However, both Reid and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) have said that this bill will not replace a more comprehensive package from coming to the floor early this fall. Still, reaction from the renewable energy industry has not been positive.

Reid said that the bill includes only four titles, the first would force BP to pay for clean up in the Gulf of Mexico and help prevent future diasters, the second would fund residential energy efficiency retrofit programs, the third would promote the development of natural gas fueled heavy vehicles and the final provision will create clean energy jobs according to Reid, but exactly how those jobs will be created is not clear.

Reid said that the scaled back measure has the 60 votes to make it out of the Senate, proof of which is the fact that the bill is being co-sponsored by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). However, both Reid and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) have said that this bill will not replace a more comprehensive package from coming to the floor early this fall. Still, reaction from the renewable energy industry has not been positive. American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode said the scaled down bill will leave millions of dollars of investment on the table.

"A bipartisan bill with a national renewable electricity standard (RES) passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee over a year ago. It is beyond comprehension that we are now hearing that the bill may never be brought to the Senate floor. Only about 700 megawatts (MW) of wind power were added in the second quarter of 2010 and wind power installations to date this year have dropped by 54 percent and 69 percent from 2008 and 2009 levels, respectively. Manufacturing investment also continues to lag below 2008 and 2009 levels," Bode said. "A refusal to pass an RES is an attack on every American worker and consumer. Not passing an RES endangers at least 360,000 jobs: 85,000 currently employed in the wind industry and the potential 274,000 additional jobs created by an RES."

Cathy Calfo, executive director of the Apollo Alliance, said the bill is a lost opportunity for the Senate and will cause the U.S. to lose even more ground to Europe and China when it comes to developing a clean energy economy.

“Despite the heroic attempts of Senators Reid, Kerry, Boxer, Lieberman and others, not a single Republican was willing to vote for a clean energy and climate bill that would increase U.S. energy security, reduce harmful carbon emissions, and create millions of clean energy jobs for Americans. This is a historic lost opportunity," she said. “If dominating the global clean energy economy is the next American space race, the Senate’s failure to act will virtually hand the prize to the Chinese and a host of European nations. Capping carbon emissions and driving investment back into our own domestic clean energy economy should have been the centerpieces of this bill.”

This article was reprinted with permission from RenewableEnergyWorld.com as part of the PennWell Corporation Renewable Energy World Network and may not be reproduced without express written permission from the publisher.

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