Renewable Energy Payments in the US: Prospects and Perspectives

Wed, 18 Jun 2008 16:00:00 GMT

The Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute cordially invite you to a discussion featuring

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA)


  • Wilson Rickerson, Rickerson Energy Strategies
  • Janet Sawin, Worldwatch Institute
  • Dr. Anthony White, Climate Change Capital

A light lunch will be served.

Please join us for a lunch briefing that explores the potential for renewable energy payment legislation within the US electricity sector. Renewable energy payments (also known as feed-in tariffs in Europe and elsewhere) guarantee smaller renewable energy technologies a connection to the electricity grid, and provide a premium rate to these investors designed to generate a reasonable profit over a long term. Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) will begin the event by introducing his forthcoming bill (The Renewable Energy Jobs and Security Act), which incorporates the renewable energy payment for these industries that enter the US electricity market. The event will give an overview about first experiences with such legislation on the US state level. Also, the briefing will review the experiences of Europe, particularly in Germany, where renewable energy payment legislation has created rapid growth in the renewable energy industries since 1990, causing the nation to become the world’s largest market for photovoltaic systems and wind energy. By the end of 2007, 46 countries and federal states, including 18 of the 27 EU member-states, had introduced renewable energy payment legislation as a major incentive to deploy renewable energy.

Seating is limited. Please RSVP to Amy Sauer at [email protected]

HBF and EESI are 501©(3) public policy institutes that neither employ nor retain any registered lobbyists.

Improving Energy Efficiency, Increasing the Use of Renewable Sources of Energy, and Reducing the Carbon Footprint of the Capitol Complex

Wed, 18 Jun 2008 14:00:00 GMT

Witnesses Terrell Dorn, Director, Construction and Facilities Management, U. S. Government Accountability Office

Stephen T. Ayers, Acting Architect of the Capitol

Brendan Owens, Vice President, LEED Technical Development, U.S. Green Building Council

  • Jean Carroon, Preservation Architect, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Sustainability Coalition

Markup of Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations

Wed, 18 Jun 2008 14:00:00 GMT

Iran Sanctions Act of 2008

Wed, 18 Jun 2008 14:00:00 GMT

Open Executive Session to consider the “Iran Sanctions Act of 2008” and pending nominations.

Markup of Interior & the Environment Appropriations

Wed, 18 Jun 2008 14:00:00 GMT

From E&E News:
When the House Appropriations Committee considers a proposed $27.9 billion spending bill for the Interior Department, Forest Service and U.S. EPA this week, the debate will be more about gasoline prices than the merits of the bill itself.

Republicans plan on introducing amendments aimed at developing domestic resources of oil and gas, including the outer continental shelf (OCS), oil shale and Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, according to Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.)

Tiahrt, the ranking member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, said Wednesday’s full committee markup will be all about energy.

“When it gets to the full committee it’s going to be a case about whether we pay above $4 for a gallon of gas or below $4,” he said.

Regardless of what happens in committee, Tiahrt said it is unlikely that the spending bill will ever make it to the House floor.

Tiahrt said he expects there may be a continuing resolution after the presidential election in November that will carry into the new administration, though Congress could pass some Defense-related spending bills, and even the Interior bill before then.

The subcommittee last week approved the spending bill by unanimous voice vote. Tiahrt said the subcommittee wanted to send a strong message to the full committee that they supported the funding proposal and should be treated separately from the energy debate that will ensue.

The only amendment considered by the subcommittee last week was one from Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) to lift a moratorium on exploring for oil and natural gas on the outer continental shelf. The amendment would allow for exploration from 50 miles to 200 miles offshore and allow for oil and natural gas preleasing and leasing activities to begin on the OCS.

In 2006, the Minerals Management Service estimated that undiscovered, technically recoverable resources on the entire OCS totaled 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

“This is completely misleading,” subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said last week of GOP efforts to open up the OCS, calling it a “red herring and desperate attempt” to open up more offshore areas when oil companies are barely using the areas that have leased now.

Noting that MMS also reports that 82 percent of natural gas reserves and 79 percent of its oil reserves in the OCS are in areas that are already open to drilling, Dicks said more focus should be on price speculation and other factors that affect the price of gasoline rather than just open more resources.

With the prospects low that any energy amendment introduced Wednesday would make it onto the House floor, let alone signed into law, observers say Wednesday’s debate will be more about getting the parties on the record about energy.

“With energy prices where they are, both parties are trying to present their prospective on what the government needs to be involved in responding to that,” said Lee Fuller, Independent Petroleum Association of America’s vice president for government relations. Interior and Forest Service

The $27.9 billion spending bill, more than $2 billion over President Bush’s request, would reverse proposed White House spending cuts for fiscal 2009, providing significant boosts in funding for national parks, fire suppression and wildlife refuges.

The bill includes $2.6 billion for the National Park Service, including a $158 million increase in funding for operational budgets at the parks, along with $175 million to jump-start an initiative to revitalize the deteriorating National Mall.

The Fish and Wildlife Service would get $1.4 billion. The National Wildlife Refuge system, an area of concern for the subcommittee’s leadership, would see its funding rise by $35 million to $469 million. The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Geological Survey would see minor increases over their current budgets, with BLM getting a 0.5 percent increase over its current funding level to $1.013 billion and USGS seeing its budget rise to $1.05 billion.

Indian schools and social services are the biggest beneficiaries of the bill with a proposed $6 billion budget for the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a $350 million increase over the 2008 enacted levels.

For the Agriculture Department’s Forest Service, the spending bill restores almost $400 million in cuts proposed by the administration, providing an increase of $473 million for agency programs.

It also includes language that would prohibit the borrowing of funds from other agency priorities to fund wildfire suppression. Under the provision, no borrowing will be allowed unless the president submits a formal budget request to Congress to replace the funds. The request must be signed by the president before funds can be allocated.

Interior is concerned the rule would add an additional step to acquiring and replenishing funds. Another swing at royalty relief

The spending bill also carries Democratic language to address the flawed late-1990s deepwater oil and gas leases that could cost the federal government more than $14 billion.

The language seeks to ensure royalty payments from late 1990s Gulf of Mexico leases that currently allow royalty waivers regardless of energy prices. Deepwater leases Interior issued in 1998 and 1999 lack clauses – called “price thresholds” – that suspend the royalty waivers when prices exceed certain limits.

The provision from Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) would prevent companies holding these leases from participating in future lease sales. The provision was also included in last year’s House-passed Interior spending bill, and similar measures appeared in other energy bills the House has approved but never made it to the president’s desk. $700M boost for EPA

The spending bill also would increase U.S. EPA’s budget by nearly $700 million.

The legislation would provide the agency with $7.8 billion, restoring funding for key water and air programs that were drastically cut in the Bush administration’s budget proposal.

Chief among those is the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a low-interest wastewater loan program that helps states construct water treatment facilities. The fund would receive $850 million in fiscal 2009 under the House bill, a nearly $300 million increase from the White House request of $555 million. The fiscal 2008 budget for the fund was $689 million.

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle blasted the White House cut, calling the level of funding provided completely inadequate to deal with the nation’s wastewater and infrastructure needs.

The spending bill also would increase overall funding for science and technology from the $764 million requested by the White House to $793 million. Funding for environmental programs and management would rise $59 million.

Funding for Superfund cleanup would increase $20 million, and programs aimed at restoring and protecting prominent bodies of water would receive about $45 million more than in the Bush administration’s proposal.

Markup of H.R. 3036, No Child Left Inside Act of 2007

Wed, 18 Jun 2008 14:00:00 GMT

Planning Communities for a Changing Climate: Smart Growth, Public Demand and Private Opportunity

Wed, 18 Jun 2008 13:30:00 GMT

With fuel prices at an all-time high, a housing market gone sour, and heightened concerns about global warming, smart urban and rural community planning can help all three by reducing the miles traveled in vehicles, improving infrastructure and establishing economically strong communities.

On Wednesday, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will hold a hearing titled, “Planning Communities for a Changing Climate—Smart Growth, Public Demand and Private Opportunity.” The committee will explore examples of better development practices happening here in a tornado-ravaged Kansas town and on the sands of Abu Dhabi in the Middle East.

  • Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO, Masdar Initiative, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Steve Hewitt, City Administrator, Greensburg, Kansas
  • Gregory Cohen, President and CEO, American Highway Users Alliance
  • David Goldberg, Director of Communications, Smart Growth America
  • Steve Winkleman, Transportation Director, Center for Clean Air Policy

Markup of Energy & Water Appropriations

Tue, 17 Jun 2008 21:30:00 GMT

From E&E News:
Energy technology research and development and water projects are likely to see a significant boost over the Bush administration’s proposal in the fiscal 2009 spending bill the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up tomorrow.

The committee should have an extra $1.9 billion in funds above the president’s request, for a total of $33.27 billion, according to the annual 302(b) allocations released Friday. The bill funds the Energy Department, Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers.

Subcommittee Chairman Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and ranking member David Hobson (R-Ohio) have stated their disapproval of cuts made in the administration’s budget requests for energy efficiency, Cold War legacy cleanup projects and the Army Corps. Democrats have also attacked a proposal to end the Energy Department’s $227 million weatherization assistance program, which DOE contends was not cost effective.

The House may seek more funding for renewable energy programs than the administration has proposed. The White House proposed increasing spending on wind energy programs by $3 million while scaling back the solar energy program by $12 million to $156 million. The administration is proposing a substantial increase in funding for biofuels programs.

The budget would boost biomass and biorefinery programs by nearly $27 million to reach $225 million, reflecting DOE’s push to make cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive by 2012.

And if recent years are any indication, Congress is also likely to rebuff the administration request to end funding for oil and gas technology R&D programs. Lawmakers have also declined to fund a proposal that would, over two decades, double the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to 1.5 billion barrels.

The White House proposal for DOE proposed a sharp increase in funding for science programs. The Office of Science would receive an increase of $749 million to reach $4.7 billion under the DOE plan. Nuclear energy, weapons and cleanup

The $1.4 billion request for nuclear energy is likely to see a cut in funding to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership – the administration’s initiative to close the nuclear fuel cycle – and perhaps in some of the nuclear research programs, as the committee has been very critical about DOE’s ability to manage and succeed at the larger, more expensive research projects.

The administration’s 79 percent boost in funding for the Nuclear Power 2010 program – funding to support the construction of the first nuclear power plants in 30 years – to $241 million may also see some cuts to offset research funds for renewable energy and efficiency. Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) and many of the committee members are significant supporters of nuclear power, which may mitigate funding decreases.

Visclosky and Hobson are likely to include language that again requires – and perhaps removes legal obstacles – to move the mixed oxide fuel fabrication project from the National Nuclear Security Administration to the full control of the Office of Nuclear Energy.

The two expressed disapproval that their request in last year’s omnibus appropriations bill to switch the program was not complied with. DOE said there were legal impediments to switching the management of the program from NNSA to the Office of Nuclear Energy, although the funding did come from there.

Like last year, subcommittee members voiced support for the full $495 million request for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository – although Visclosky did ask the director of the Office of Civilian Nuclear Waste about other options for the spent nuclear fuel during a hearing in April.

But the panel members said the DOE funding request of $5.53 billion to clean up the nuclear mess left over from the Cold War was drastically low, especially as the 3 percent cut came from major sites, including the Hanford site in Washington, Idaho National Laboratory, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico and Nevada Test Site.

Visclosky said at a hearing in March that DOE keeps funding sites that do not appear to make any improvement and are riddled with bad management. “We are having the same conversation today that we did in 1998,” he said.

An additional $10 million from the request also is expected to be freed up as Visclosky and Hobson both disapprove of the “reliable replacement warhead” program – a research project to develop new nuclear warheads. Water projects

Visclosky and Obey have also been highly critical of the Bush administration’s proposed cuts to the Army Corps budget, arguing they leave one of the nation’s most critical needs underfunded.

The administration’s budget request calls for a 15 percent reduction in funding for the Army Corps from last year - from $5.6 billion to $4.6 billion - and does not include funding for new projects. That number does not include an additional $5.8 billion in emergency request funding for ongoing levee reconstruction efforts in Louisiana.

The $846 million cut is “exacerbating the operations and maintenance backlog for navigation systems vital to our economy, and delaying completion of ongoing construction projects leaving infrastructure vulnerable to failure and areas vulnerable to flooding,” Obey said earlier this year.

At a hearing, John Woodley Jr., assistant secretary of the Army’s Civil Works program, told appropriators that the reductions were a result of the administration’s attempts to “concentrate funds on those projects that give the greatest returns.”

However, he did tell a Senate panel that there were several projects that the corps could take on if given additional funding. “This budget leaves a lot of good work on the table,” Woodley said.

Members also will tackle the budget for the Bureau of Reclamation, which would lose $178 million under the White House proposal. Reclamation received $1.1 billion in fiscal 2008.

Funding for water and related resources would drop from $940 million to $779 million under the Bush proposal, a $161 million cut. The White House also proposed slicing the bureau’s California-Bay Delta restoration program by $8 million, leaving it with a budget of $32 million.

Reclamation Commissioner Robert Johnson has acknowledged the agency could use additional funding if it were available but said the president was attempting to maximize the agency’s work while balancing the federal budget by 2012.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Oversight Needs

Tue, 17 Jun 2008 14:30:00 GMT

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in joint session with the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will meet in open session to discuss the role, responsibilities, and resource needs of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in oversight of futures and derivatives markets in energy and agriculture.


  • Walter Lukken, Acting Chairman, Commodities Futures Trading Commission


  • Mark Cooper, Director of Research, Consumer Federation of America
  • Terrence Duffy, Executive Chairman, Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group
  • James C. May, President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association
  • Dr. James E. Newsome, CEO and President, New York Mercantile Exchange
  • Charles A. Vice, President and Chief Operating Officer, IntercontinentalExchange
  • Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Senate Appropriations Committee
    Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee 192 Dirksen
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The challenges and regional solutions to developing transmission for renewable electricity resources

Tue, 17 Jun 2008 14:00:00 GMT


Panel 1
  • Harry Reid – Member, U.S. Senate
Panel 2
  • Kevin Kolevar, United States Department of Energy
  • T. Boone Pickens, BP Capital
  • Rich Halvey, Western Governors’ Association
  • Bryce Freeman, Wyoming Infrastructure Authority
Panel 3
  • Gary Hanson, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
  • Stephen Wright, Bonneville Power Administration
  • Will Kaul, Great River Energy
  • Don Furman, Representing American Wind Energy Association

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