“They’ve moved the cliff out one year,” was the paraphrased response given by one executive of a Schwartz solar client when asked about the US Treasury grant program that got extended late last year. The program, allowing solar and wind project owners to get an uncapped 30 percent of a project’s value in the form of an up-front grant, is one of the beneficial federal programs that has helped preserve investment in renewable energy.
Another Schwartz client once said that the biggest lynchpin to stimulating massive amounts of solar and wind development was some sort of long-term, cohesive policy that gave project developers, financiers and owners certainty through a project’s entire lifecycle. The issue? If a wind farm takes years to design, permit and install, then a 12 month policy doesn’t do much for reassuring the bankers on project cost and IRR.
So while an RPS target almost a decade off isn’t the “killer app” in renewable energy policy, it does send a message to market stakeholders that a state, country or region could be a healthy market for years to come. That brings us to a bill expected to pass the California Assembly this week that will set an aggressive 33 percent renewable portfolio standard, requiring utilities to get one-third of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.
California taking the lead on policy is nothing new—the California RAM FiT program is just one example of policy that had cleantech companies excited. But it is critically important that it continue to lead the country toward a more sustainable future, as federal policy becomes neutered by a Republican-controlled House intent on curtailing the efforts of EPA and California to regulate greenhouse gases and giving polluters a free license to emit whatever they would like with no controls.
You’ll hear a lot about an “energy tax” which is how renewable energy and environmental opponents will cast AB 32 and other California policy over the next 3-6 months. But make no bones about it, any policy that spans the life of energy projects will have a positive impact on energy security, environmental health and job creation in California and nationwide.Tags: ab+32, cleantech+pr, epa, ram+fit, renewable+portfolio+standard, renewables+pr, rps, solar+pr, wind+pr
Posted by Jason Morris on March 15, 2011 at 11:43 AM
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