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Delaware's future: Slump limits clean energy; Congress, economy hold back US shift

Advocates for such renewable, carbon-free sources of electricity are in full defense mode, as recession-battered consumers blanch at the modest added costs required to shift to cleaner power and resurgent Republicans rail against government subsidies or carbon-control programs that might add costs for businesses and "kill jobs."

Five years ago, sobered viewers streamed from theaters showing the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," many resolving to push for change to curtail carbon emissions from power plants, factories and homes to lessen the impact of climate change.

The film catalyzed calls for a major shift in U.S. energy policy away from power plants using coal, oil or natural gas -- which poured tons of carbon into the air each day -- and toward major investment in carbon-free generation of power from sources like wind, solar, geothermal -- and even nuclear plants.

Today, despite predictions no less dire, advocates for such renewable, carbon-free sources of electricity are in full defense mode, as recession-battered consumers blanch at the modest added costs required to shift to cleaner power and resurgent Republicans rail against government subsidies or carbon-control programs that might add costs for businesses and "kill jobs."

"Five years ago, the world was ending," said James Cotton, a Connecticut-based energy consultant who has worked on Delaware utility rate cases. But Americans today are "much more concerned with the here and now,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Five years ago, sobered viewers streamed from theaters showing the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," many resolving to push for change to curtail carbon emissions from power plants, factories and homes to lessen the impact of climate change.

The film catalyzed calls for a major shift in U.S. energy policy away from power plants using coal, oil or natural gas -- which poured tons of carbon into the air each day -- and toward major investment in carbon-free generation of power from sources like wind, solar, geothermal -- and even nuclear plants.

Today, despite predictions no less dire, advocates for such renewable, carbon-free sources of electricity are in full defense mode, as recession-battered consumers blanch at the modest added costs required to shift to cleaner power and resurgent Republicans rail against government subsidies or carbon-control programs that might add costs for businesses and "kill jobs."

"Five years ago, the world was ending," said James Cotton, a Connecticut-based energy consultant who has worked on Delaware utility rate cases. But Americans today are "much more concerned with the here and now, getting Mom into a good nursing home, getting to pay for it."

In Congress, two initiatives to press utilities to buy renewable energy -- a national emission cap-and-trade system and a national requirement that a percentage of a utility's power come from renewable sources -- are dead for now because of Republican opposition. Already a victim of early budget-cutting deals are tax credits for renewable energy production and a loan guarantee program important to firms looking to finance construction of wind or solar farms.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he plans to pull his state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 10-state cap-and-trade program designed to support energy efficiency and renewable power programs. New Hampshire may not be far behind. Similar calls for withdrawal surfaced -- and were rebuffed -- in Delaware.

The renewable power industry is reeling.


Source: http://www.delawareonline.c...

JUN 19 2011
http://www.windaction.org/posts/31140-delaware-s-future-slump-limits-clean-energy-congress-economy-hold-back-us-shift
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