Clean-tech industry drawing up wish list for Obama administration
By Matt Nauman
SunPower Vice President Julie Blunden says there is an obvious way for
President-elect Barack Obama to confirm his commitment to clean
technologies: Put solar panels on the White House roof.
That's just one suggestion from an industry buoyed by hopes in a new
president who made clean energy and green jobs a significant part of
"President-elect Obama clearly sees the job growth and economic
development opportunities as we transition our energy industry toward
solar and other new resources," said Blunden, whose San Jose company
makes solar panels and systems.
Leaders from other clean-tech sectors also have high expectations, and
specific suggestions, for Obama.
Geothermal: Curt Robinson, executive director of the Geothermal
Resources Council in Davis, characterizes Obama's election as "a very,
very good opportunity for our country and the industry."
But to tap into geothermal resources, greater public-private
cooperation is needed, he said, as well as improved coordination
between the Interior, Energy and Agriculture departments over issues
of access to public lands and transmission line siting.
"In my perspective, our country had a real opportunity back 35 years
ago with Arab oil embargo. We've been in a coma for 35 years, but it
looks like we're finally waking up," Robinson said.
Wind: The wind industry hopes the new administration will extend its
tax credit to match what solar got. In
October, the wind credit was extended one year, while the solar tax
credit was extended for eight years.
"Long-term stability of the production tax credit would be of enormous
benefit," said Nancy Rader, executive director of the California Wind
Energy Association. "It would enable manufacturers to plan and invest
in facilities, to buy turbines and blades."
Speeding up federal land-use applications also would help, she said.
"Right now, it is taking years to get a land-use application through
the process," Rader said. "We need this administration to do for
renewables what the Bush administration did for oil and gas."
Autos: Diarmuid O'Connell vice president of business development at
Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley electric-car startup said consumer
incentives on electric and plug-in hybrid cars are needed "to pull our
products into the marketplace and to make the first and second
generations of these new technologies cost-competitive with the
O'Connell said it also is important for the new administration to
continue and expand the U.S. government's loan and loan-guarantee
programs. Tesla is waiting on a $00 million loan from the Department
of Energy to help it build its first factory in San Jose and move its
headquarters here from San Carlos.
O'Connell, who worked for the Bush administration's State Department
before joining Tesla, has heard that Obama plans to create a National
Energy Security Council that is on par with the National Security
Council. "We think this is a great signal that they intend to handle
things from the center, and not simply through agencies," he said.
Solar: Besides a White House solar system, SunPower's Blunden would
like to see Obama sign an executive order encouraging solar purchases
by federal agencies.
Blunden also would like to see Obama steal a page from California Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's script by making frequent, well-publicized
appearances at solar dedications.
Rhone Resch who heads the Solar Energy Industries Association, a
Washington, D.C.-based trade and lobby group said that the new
president should name a renewable or clean-energy czar in addition to
the tech czar he already has promised.
"It's absolutely necessary to coordinate the different agencies within
the federal government," he said.
As a presidential candidate, Obama repeatedly stressed the importance
of alternative energy, as both a security issue and as a solution to
climate change. His "New Energy for America" plan includes:
Investing $50 billion over 10 years to create 5 million green-collar
Putting 1 million plug-in hybrid cars capable of getting the
equivalent of 150 miles per gallon on the road by 2015;
Getting 10 percent of electricity nationally from renewable sources by
2012, and 25 percent by 2025;
Implementing a national carbon cap-and-trade program that will reduce
greenhouse-gas emission 80 percent by 2050.
Contact Matt Nauman at (408) 920-5701 or at email@example.com.
CLEAN-TECh WISH LIST
Here are a few things some clean-tech sectors want from the new Obama
Solar: An upgrade of the aging U.S. electricity grid.
Wind: A renewable electricity standard and a long-term extension of
the production tax credit for wind projects.
Geothermal: Extension of the production tax credit and greater access
to public lands.
Sources: Solar Energy Industries Association; American Wind Energy
Association; Geothermal Energy Association