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State and federal policies to increase the use of clean, renewable energy sources are producing results across the country, according to a groundbreaking study released today by Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project. The study, titled Renewable Energy Sourcebook: A Primer for Action, shows that the deployment of solar, wind and geothermal technologies is set to expand rapidly in states like Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. These expansions represent only a fraction of the available resource potential which can be economically and technologically harnessed. Unfortunately, the potential rollback of progressive energy policies in a number of key states threatens to undermine future gains in the deployment of renewable energy technologies. “Public Citizen’s study shows that new renewable energy technologies are moving from the laboratory into the field as a wide range of utilities are beginning to look to wind, solar, geothermal and biomass resources for new electrical capacity” said Matthew Freedman, the report’s author. “We are concerned, however, that proposed changes in state policies could discourage future development of renewable energy by electric utilities.” “As we approach the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, reliance on nuclear and fossil fuels continues to damage our ecology and environment. If our leaders fail to enact and implement policies that promote a shift to renewable energy, consumers and the environment will pay the price in higher utility bills and more pollution,” said Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen. The report cites a number of states which have made commitments to new renewable energy use. In New York, a settlement that would add over 380 Megawatts (MW) of renewable electric capacity is at risk as electric utilities are considering abandoning their agreements. In Iowa, a state mandate to add over 100 MW of new renewable electric capacity may be undone if a utility-sponsored bill in the legislature is passed into law. In California, a competitive process which resulted in winning bids for over 450 MW of new renewable capacity is on hold due to protests from electric utilities and a recent decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that the process is invalid. “Utilities should be encouraged to diversify energy supplies and incorporate renewables into their portfolios. Since the cost of fossil fuels can fluctuate on short notice, fuel diversity helps to protect ratepayers from the risks of price shocks,” said Freedman. The Renewable Energy Sourcebook contains profiles for each state’s energy use. It includes electricity generation, renewable energy and electric resource potential, state rankings, state policies and electric utility activities. The ranking section shows how states compare nationally within each category of renewable energy use. Among the study’s findings are the following: – Current use of wind generated electricity is enough to meet the needs of almost 300,000 households. New projects will produce enough power to satisfy the usage of an additional 540,000 households. National potential for new development is more than nine times current U.S. electricity consumption. – Solar hot water heating systems across the country harness enough of the sun’s energy to meet the water heating needs of almost 1.8 million households. – Operating geothermal electric plants that use underground steam and superheated water generate enough electricity to satisfy the needs of over 1.8 million households. New projects will increase capacity by almost 25 percent. Undeveloped sites hold the potential to satisfy the electricity needs of almost 17.5 million households. – States offer a wide range of incentives and programs to promote the use, purchase and manufacture of renewable energy systems for home and business. 33 states offer tax incentives, eight states have set-asides or targets for renewable capacity additions, 17 states offer loans for renewable energy projects, three states require electric utilities to provide off-grid customers with cost comparison between line extension and a photovoltaic system and four states encourage or require the use of renewable energy systems in state buildings. The study ranks each state in 14 categories of renewable energy use. Each category is broken down by total use, percent of state consumption and on a per capita basis. “The economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy use are abundant” said Freedman. “If we are serious about fighting pollution and fueling sustainable economic growth, it is essential that states pursue an aggressive program to deploy advanced, reliable and cost-effective renewable energy systems”. Full copies and individual state profiles are available for members of the press. For others, copies are available from Public Citizen (Telephone: 202-833-3000) at a price of $60. Single state versions are available for $10; additional states can be added for $2 each. Public interest groups are eligible for discounts. STATE DATA AND RANKINGS ARE AVAILABLE FOR ALL 50 STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.


Public Citizen is a non-profit consumer advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader. The Critical Mass Energy Project is Public Citizen’s energy policy arm.