Watch David Hill discuss his policy report card: solartoday.org/video
Energy Policy Report Card: GPA 2. 42
Last year, the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) Policy Committee pub- lished a set of recommendations for the
111th Congress ( ases.org/policy2009). How
has Congress responded? At SOLAR 2010 in
Phoenix in May, committee chair David Hill
offered a report card.
The policy recommendations focused on
the climate change goals outlined in the 2007
ASES report “Tackling Climate Change in the
U.S.” and their corresponding net economic
benefits. It called for greenhouse gas emis-
SolarIndDPWJulAug10 hres.pdf 1 4/30/10 3:53 PM
sions to be cut 50 percent by 2030, with a
net increase of 4. 5 million jobs and annual
benefits totaling about $82 billion.
By May, the policy committee gave Congress a C-minus on carbon emissions policy,
citing delays and compromises in the Senate,
where the American Power Act has weaker
targets than the Waxman-Markey measure
already passed in the House.
Building-efficiency policy gets a B, largely
because the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) met the ASES recommendations
for building codes and appliance standards, and
the House passed both Waxman-Markey and the
Home Star act. Next: A Building Star measure
incorporating elements of Architecture 2030.
Renewable electricity policy gets a C-minus
grade. Congressional proposals for a national
renewable portfolio standard (RPS) fall well
short of the ASES recommendation of 28 percent by 2020, with a 3 percent solar target. Progress at the state level has been encouraging.
Transportation policy rates a C-plus, based
on improved Corporate Average Fuel Economy,
or CAFE, standards calling for 15 percent fleet
improvement by 2016, the success of Cash for
Clunkers, federal support for high-speed rail and
a variety of research initiatives.
Smart-grid and transmission policy gets a
B, based on the $4.5 billion allocated for grid
modernization under ARRA and bills now in
the Senate that prioritize renewable transmission siting.
Green economy and workforce policy also
gets a B, thanks to $500 million for job training
under ARRA and $1.35 billion in the proposed
2011 budget for state education and training
programs. More work is needed.
Federal leadership scores a C-plus. Progress
is slow, especially toward phase-out of subsidies
for fossil fuels, now slated for 2020.
Hill outlined current policy objectives:
Climate issues have priority. There’s no longer time for political debate and delays. Congress
must act before the fall elections. The Kerry-Lie-berman bill is a step forward but includes significant support for new nuclear power, so-called
“clean coal” and off-shore drilling. It would end
successful state-level cap-and-trade programs.
We should work toward its passage — with
18 July/August 2010 SOLAR TODAY solartoday.org
Copyright © 2010 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved. 09