President Signs Energy Bill

By Published On: December 21, 2007

This year’s federal energy bill, HR 6, was signed by President George Bush December 19. The President had threatened to veto the version passed by the House, but the Senate stripped out a national renewables portfolio standard, as well as a plan to pull oil and gas industry subsidies and direct them instead to promoting more renewable energy. To meet the President’s objections, the House then concurred with the Senate version. As signed, the bill raises fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, orders a massive increase in the use of biofuels, and phases out sale of the incandescent light bulb. Mike Peevey, president of the CPUC, blasted lawmakers for approving the bill devoid of its original 15 percent renewable portfolio standard and multi-year extension of the production tax credit for solar, wind and geothermal projects. The final bill “mortgages our future for some uncertain short-term gain,” Peevey said during a December 20 commission meeting. However, commissioner Dian Grueneich said her take on the bill wasn’t so hostile. She said that it directs the Department of Energy to apply new efficiency standards for appliances, as well as major efficiency improvements at the federal level. The viability of many renewable energy developers depends on the tax credit, which is reauthorized just prior to its expiration every two years. According to Peevey, this results in financial uncertainty and a “boom and bust cycle.” He noted it also undermines California projects, but was uncertain as to how many at this point.

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