President Barack Obama has once again made clean energy a priority in his most recent budget, which outlines his spending plan for fiscal-year 2014.
A fact sheet released with the budget describes some of its components that are intended to make the U.S. ‘the leader in the clean energy sector and bring about a clean energy economy with new companies and jobs.’
Since Obama was elected in 2008, the amount of U.S. electricity produced by solar and other renewable energy sources has already doubled, and the price of solar modules has fallen by more than 75%, the fact sheet notes.
In his 2014 budget, Obama increases funding for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) clean energy activities to $6.2 billion – more than 40% over its 2012 level (as enacted). Funding for solar and other forms of renewable energy is raised by 30% to $7.9 billion across all agencies.
Specifically, the budget sets aside $615 million to ‘increase the use and reduce the costs of’ solar and other types of renewable energy, the fact sheet explains. The DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy would see its funding increased to $379 million, while various programs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture would receive funding in order to support clean energy deployment in rural areas.
The U.S. Department of the Interior would receive increased funding as well, including $100 million to ‘maintain capacity to review and permit new renewable energy projects on federal lands and waters,’ the fact sheet says.
In addition, Obama calls for a permanent tax incentive for renewable energy production and tax credits for advanced energy manufacturing.
‘To provide a strong, consistent incentive to encourage investments in renewable energy technologies and to help meet our goal to double generation from wind, solar and geothermal sources by 2020, the budget would make permanent the tax credit for the production of renewable electricity,’ the fact sheet explains. An additional $2.5 billion in credits would be provided for investments in clean energy manufacturing projects.
The budget would also repeal certain tax subsidies given to fossil fuel producers, estimated at more than $4 billion annually.
‘Many of these proposals are not new, and some have been rejected,’ notes ML Strategies, a government relations consulting group, in its analysis of the budget. ‘The repeal of $40 billion in tax provisions for fossil fuel extraction and refining is opposed by most Republicans and oil-state Democrats.
‘In light of these realities, the budget remains an aspirational document highlighting the administration's priorities, since the actual appropriation levels depend on Congress,’ the company concludes.
The budget won praise from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which applauded the president for his ‘continued support’ of solar.
‘We praise the president for emphasizing that a transition to sustainable energy sources is vital – and that the U.S. must lead it,’ said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA, in a statement.
‘We urge Congress to work with the administration to pass and implement sensible energy policy,’ Resch added.