House Pulls Solar Stimulus Funding Rug

By Published On: February 25, 2011

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is warning that eight major renewable projects in California with 4,000 MW of capacity would be “scrapped” if Congress eliminates a Department of Energy loan guarantee program. The senator promises to put that funding back in when her side of Congress receives the House bill passed Feb. 19. The legislation--which would extend the federal government funding under a continuing resolution--was approved by the House 235 to 189. Congress is in recess this week. California regulatory staff and lobbyists downplayed the possibility that the state’s big solar projects would come to a screeching halt as a result of the legislation. They cited the senator’s promise to reinstate renewables subsidies. “It is unfair and shortsighted to cut the program now. It’s like changing the rules with two minutes left in the game,” stated Jared Blanton, Solar Energy Industries Association spokesperson. Blanton expressed assurance that Feinstein and other solar “champions” give keeping subsidies “top priority.” The subsidies were targeted as part of a House attempt at eliminating stimulus funds for energy projects other than nuclear power plants. According to HR 1, the money bill, “There are hereby rescinded all unobligated balances remaining available as of February 11, 2011, of the discretionary appropriations provided by division A of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” “The renewable energy loan guarantee program would be terminated, ending negotiations for dozens of clean energy projects, including 24 in California that would power hundreds of thousands of homes with clean energy and would create up to 76,000 jobs,” stated Feinstein. Some state agency sources agreed that if the House bill’s tenets on renewable energy subsidies survive it would put some big California solar developments in question. HR 1 also hinders the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to control greenhouse gases. According to an EPA analysis, the bill prohibits “all EPA activities relating to greenhouse gas pollution including scientific research, support for new U.S. clean energy technologies, website, and collaborative partnerships with businesses and citizens.” The agency also notes the legislation “Bars EPA’s national emission standards under development that will rely on cost-effective, proven technologies to reduce greenhouse gases from the nation’s largest polluters: fossil-fueled power plants and refineries.”

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