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CONTENTS SUMMARY MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS Renewable Energy Concept Contribution to National Energy Supply Role in Long-Term Energy Supply History Tax Credits Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act State and Local Government Roles Renewables in the 109th Congress Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Renewable Energy Production Incentive (REPI) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Hydrogen Renewables Tax Revenue Effect Other Renewables Provisions FY2006 DOE Budget Using Renewable Energy to Produce Electricity Renewables Under Electric Industry Restructuring Green Power Distributed Energy Net Metering Natural Gas and Renewables Biomass-Generated Synthetic Natural Gas (Syngas) Substituting Electricity from Renewables for Gas-Fired Generation Climate Change and Renewables LEGISLATION CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS, REPORTS, AND DOCUMENTS FOR ADDITIONAL READING CRS Reports Websites
Energy security, a major driver of federal renewable energy programs in the past, came back into play as oil and gas prices rose late in the year 2000. The terrorist attack in 2001 and the Iraq war have led to heightened concern about energy security, energy infrastructure vulnerability, and the need for alternative fuels. Further, the 2001 electricity shortages in California, the northeast-midwest blackout of 2003, and continuing high natural gas prices have brought a new emphasis to the role that renewable energy may play in producing electricity, displacing fossil fuel use, and curbing demand for power transmission equipment.
Also, worldwide emphasis on environmental problems of air and water pollution and global climate change, the related development of clean energy technologies in western Europe and Japan, and technology competitiveness may remain important influences on renewable energy policymaking.
The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act for FY2006 (P.L. 109-103, H.R. 2419) provides $1,185.7 million for DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs. Of that amount, $238.6 million funds five renewable energy research and development (R&D) programs (biomass, solar, wind, geothermal, and small hydro). This amount is $8.2 million (3.3%) less than was appropriated in FY2005. Further, funding committed to congressionally earmarked projects grew by $28.0 million to $80.0 million, which is 34% of total R&D funding for renewable energy programs. Funding for non-R&D renewable energy programs was cut by $4 million (34%).
P.L. 109-102 (H.R. 3057) provides $100 million for clean (renewable) energy and energy efficiency programs in developing countries. P.L. 109-97 (H.R. 2744) provides $23 million for farm-based renewable energy grants and loans. H.R. 2863 (in conference) would authorize $5 million for a wind energy project on an Air Force base.
P.L. 109-58 (H.R. 6) authorizes or reauthorizes several renewable energy programs, sets new goals for renewable energy use in federal facilities and fleets, expands programs for hydrogen fuel cell buses, and sets ([sections]1501) a renewable fuels standard of 7.5 billion gallons per year by 2012 to increase use of ethanol and biodiesel. Among the tax measures, [sections]1301 extends the renewable energy production tax credit for two years, [sections]1303 provides $800 million in renewable energy bonds, [sections]1335 establishes a residential solar (heat and electricity) tax credit, and [sections]1337 increases a business solar tax credit. However, the enacted law does not include a Senate-proposed provision to set a 10% renewable portfolio standard.
P.L. 109-59 (H.R. 3) contains several provisions for "alterative" and "clean" fuels, including sections 1113, 1121, 3010, 3044, and 6015.
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (H.R. 4241/S. 1932) has passed both chambers. Section 1301 would terminate funding for certain renewable energy programs at USDA, and Section 6514 would create funding for mitigating renewable energy (and other energy) development on federal lands.
MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
On January 19, 2006, following from Section 1253 of the Energy Policy Act (P.L. 109-58), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposed a new rule that would exempt electric utilities in certain states of the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, New England, and New York from small (renewable) power purchase requirements that had been established under Section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act.
On January 12, 2006, the Secretary of Energy announced that President Bush will request $52 million in the upcoming FY2007 budget request to support the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Renewable energy technologies are listed as one of several technologies that will be studied by task forces of the six-member organization, which also includes Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea. Also on January 12, the California Public Utility Commission launched a $3 billion program of solar energy rebate incentives that aims to spur installation of 3,000 megawatts (millions of watts) of capacity within 10 years.
Enacted on November 19, 2005, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for FY2006 (P.L. 109-103, H.R. 2419) provides $1,185.7 million for DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs. (For more details, see "FY2006 DOE Budget," "Legislation," and Table 2 below.)
On November 18, the House passed (217-215) the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (H.R. 4241/S. 1932). Section 1301 would terminate funding for certain renewable energy programs at USDA, and Section 6514 would create funding for mitigating renewable energy (and other energy) development on federal lands. Conferees have not been assigned yet.
(The renewable energy provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 [P.L. 109-58, H.R. 6]) and other bills of the 109th Congress are discussed in the "Renewables in the 109th Congress" and "Legislation" sections below.)
BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS
Renewable Energy Concept
Renewable energy is derived from resources that are generally not depleted by human use, such as the sun, wind, and water movement. These primary sources of energy can be converted into heat, electricity, and mechanical energy in several ways. There are some mature technologies for conversion of renewable energy such as hydropower, biomass, and waste combustion. Other conversion technologies, such as wind turbines and photovoltaics, are already well developed, but have not achieved the technological efficiency and market penetration which many expect they will ultimately reach. Although geothermal energy is produced from geological rather than solar sources, it is often included as a renewable energy resource and this brief treats it as one. Commercial nuclear power is not generally considered to be a renewable energy resource. (For further definitions of renewable energy, see the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's website information on "Clean Energy 101" at [http://www.nrel.gov/clean_energy/].)
Contribution to National Energy Supply
According to the Energy Information Administration's (EIA's) Annual Energy Outlook 2006, renewable energy resources (excluding wood used for home heating) supplied about 5.7 Q (quadrillion Btu's or quads) of the 99.7 Q the nation used in 2004, or about 6.0% of national energy demand. More than half of renewable energy production takes the form of electricity supply. Of this, most is provided by large hydropower. However, from 1998 through 2001, a drought-driven decline in hydroelectric availability …