Article

Wind, geothermal industries rap Bush administration

WASHINGTON -- Federal officials vowed this week to boost renewable energy production on federal lands in the West, but wind and geothermal industry officials criticized the administration for a lack of openness and support leading to delays in some of their projects.

The Interior Department has a major role to play in the projected growth of domestic renewable energy consumption, Interior Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett testified.

Consumption of renewable fuels will grow about 60 percent by 2025 and renewable energy will account for more than 10 percent of domestic energy production and 7 percent of consumption, she said at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Interior is working to increase wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy production, she said. But at the hearing industry and environmental groups criticized a backlog of energy lease applications and lack of input on new regulations.

The wind industry has generally been pleased with the Bureau of Land Management process for wind energy development but has serious concerns with other agencies, said Chris Taylor, who testified on behalf of the American Wind Energy Association. Taylor is director of development for Horizon Wind Energy, which builds and operates wind power projects across the United States.

The Forest Service is drafting national guidelines for wind energy development on forest lands without any input from... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Interior Department has a major role to play in the projected growth of domestic renewable energy consumption, Interior Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett testified.

Consumption of renewable fuels will grow about 60 percent by 2025 and renewable energy will account for more than 10 percent of domestic energy production and 7 percent of consumption, she said at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Interior is working to increase wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy production, she said. But at the hearing industry and environmental groups criticized a backlog of energy lease applications and lack of input on new regulations.

The wind industry has generally been pleased with the Bureau of Land Management process for wind energy development but has serious concerns with other agencies, said Chris Taylor, who testified on behalf of the American Wind Energy Association. Taylor is director of development for Horizon Wind Energy, which builds and operates wind power projects across the United States.

The Forest Service is drafting national guidelines for wind energy development on forest lands without any input from industry, Taylor said. He said he had made repeated requests to the Forest Service to participate in the process but was ''repeatedly rebuffed.''

He added that recently developed BLM guidelines on the same subject could be a start for the Forest Service document on the same subject.

Sally Collins, associate chief of the Forest Service, disagreed that there has not been enough input, saying the informal process is working well. As for the BLM guidelines, Collins said, ''We have a lot to learn from them, but we have a lot of our own processes to go through.''

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put in place temporary voluntary guidelines on minimizing wind turbines' impact on wildlife with ''little or no'' input from industry or environmentalists, Taylor said. The guidelines have caused countless delays in the permitting and review of wind energy projects with no appreciable benefit for wildlife, he said.

He noted that the temporary guidelines were put in place in 2003 and that a process to revise them will begin soon, but added that another three years would not be acceptable. ''That's a long time for us and a lot of missed opportunities,'' he said.

Scarlett noted that the interim guidelines were voluntary and said the department is committed now to a collaborative process in establishing the new guidelines.

Geothermal energy executives slammed the Bush administration for zeroing out any money in its proposed 2007 budget for a geothermal research program despite professing support for renewable energy. Chairman Larry Craig, R-Idaho, said the Senate had put back in $22 million for the program.

More coordination is needed between state and federal processes, said John White of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, which includes national environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Union of Concerned Scientists as well as energy producers.

White and several other witnesses said the BLM and Forest Service lacked sufficient staff and resources to handle lease applications and environmental reviews. The witnesses also argued for a longer-term extension of the Production Tax Credit, which was renewed for two years in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., said the committee would look at what can be done in the short term to increase the volume of renewable energy production and at new ways to produce such energy in the long term.

Scarlett testified that BLM lands supply almost half of the nation's geothermal generation and more than 5 percent of domestic wind capacity.

The BLM manages 100 wind energy right-of-way authorizations, she said. Most are for testing and monitoring, but about 25 are producing wind farms with the capacity to produce 500 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 420,000 homes. The BLM is reviewing several proposals that would more than double the capacity of wind generation of public lands, she said.


Source: http://www.jacksonholestart...

JUL 13 2006
http://wind3.herokuapp.com/posts/3482-wind-geothermal-industries-rap-bush-administration
back to top