Obama Boosts Smart Grid Again, But It's a Lump of Coal for Fossil Fuels and Gas Subsidies
By: SGN Staff
Utilities will want to note an unmistakable shift in the wind with the President's proposal: more money for renewables and a generous nod to reviving the all but dormant nuclear sector â€" and less free money for fossil fuels and gas.
President Obama's $28.4 billion FY 2011 DOE budget request asks for more money for renewable energy and a secure, reliable Smart Grid, research and innovation and for almost tripling loan guarantees for renewable and nuclear energy. It also whacks over $2.7 billion in tax subsidies for the oil, coal and gas industries and cancels planned expansion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The proposal is also, in a very big way, about creating jobs.
The budget request, $2 billion more than the 2010 budget proposal, includes:
Â· $217 million in new cash for science research and discovery;
Â· $300 million for DOE's Advanced Research Project Agency â€" Energy (ARPA-E);
Â· Lending authority for about $40 billion in loan guarantees for clean energy progams;
Â· $108 million in new money for more research in wind, solar and geothermal energy.
It also includes well over $1 billion for a broad range of nonproliferation, security and research for DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration.
Losers in the proposal include:
Â· Oil, coal and gas industries that would lose more than $2.7 billion in tax subsidies;
Â· The Ultra-Deepwater exploration program which would be deep-sixed to save $50 million;
Â· The Strategic Petroleum Reserve's planned expansion would be cut, saving $71 million.
"The President's budget cuts wasteful spending while making wise investments in innovation, and clean energy that will put Americans back to work, save families money and keep our nation competitive in the global marketplace," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. "This budget supports new approaches to clean energy research and invests in the next generation of scientists and engineers, and it will spark new clean energy projects nationwide, including restarting the American nuclear power industry."
GridWise Alliance President Katherine Hamilton called Obama's budget the best budget document from a Smart Grid perspective to date. "Today the White House announced a beefed up budget for Smart Grid, which will allow the Department of Energy to increase its staffing to ensure that recovery projects are carried out successfully," she said. "The $40 million slated for the Office of Electricity is a 30 percent increase and is a 300 percent increase for energy storage, one of the key components of a smarter grid.”
Among what surely will be several sticking points in the budget request is the proposal to almost triple loan guarantees for new nuclear plants. It was immediately criticized as a massive waste of money and an additional burden on taxpayers. Opponents pointed to earlier government reports that the risk of default in new nuclear plant construction projects could reach 50 percent.
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