Statement Responds to RES Hearing

Guest Blog | February 26, 2009 | Press Releases

Today the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on enacting a national renewable energy standard. Dr. Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, issued the following statement.

“Today’s hearing offered an important opportunity to advance the national discussion about developing our vast renewable energy resources with a national renewable electricity standard (RES), and we applaud Chairman Markey for convening this hearing.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Stan Wise is doing the bidding for Southern power companies. We have heard yet another refrain of the South’s tired song when it comes to renewable energy production: ‘The sun don’t shine, the wind don’t blow and the trees don’t grow here.’ Mr. Wise goes so far as to say that Georgia lacks sufficient biomass, wind and solar resources to meet a national standard. Commissioner Wise later incorrectly suggested that meeting a renewable energy standard with biomass would require several states worth of biomass resources. This inaccurate and defeatist position is what leads to the lack of innovation and leadership that prevents the Southeast from becoming a leader in clean technology development and advancing green collar jobs that our region so desperately needs.

“Well we know better.

“Renewable energy is, in fact, the only energy resource native to Georgia. Georgia does not produce any coal, oil, natural gas or uranium. Our own recent analysis* shows that Georgia contains abundant, readily available biomass resources that will go a long way in meeting a robust, national RES of 25 percent by 2025. Furthermore, less than 0.2 percent of forest stock would be needed from the Southeast’s abundant biomass resources to meet this goal. On the wind front, our research on the latest information demonstrates that if the state of Georgia would get serious about renewable energy, they could feasibly develop over 17,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2025. Offshore wind energy represents the greatest source of untapped energy off the coast of Georgia. And lastly, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 23.6 percent of Georgia’s electricity could come from rooftop solar alone.

“According to many in the forestry industry, biopower plant developers in Georgia, North Carolina and other Southern states will rely on a range of biomass materials that currently lack a market or face declining markets. For example, in North Carolina, the Craven Wood Energy plant, which is surrounded by pulp mills, has not had to compete with other uses for timber products over its 18 years in operation.

“Regrettably, Commissioner Wise would rather stick with the system that exports Georgia dollars to pay for dirty and expensive fossil and nuclear fuels rather than tap homegrown energy sources and create new jobs in Georgia.

“Georgia and the Southeast have the renewable energy resources necessary to meet a national renewable electricity standard of 25 percent by 2025. The private sector is bringing forward the willpower and leadership to develop our abundant, available homegrown renewable energy resources. Will our elected leaders respond?

“Unfortunately, today’s hearing demonstrated that at least some of our elected leaders are not ready to embrace these opportunities. Rep. John Barrow, D-Savannah, a member of the subcommittee, claimed that, ‘We could pick the state clean (of trees) and not be able to meet the mandates being proposed by some.’

“This statement simply cannot go unchallenged. Annual forest regeneration far exceeds the 0.3 percent of forest stocks that Georgia could use to help meet a 25 percent by 2025 mandate. Rep. Barrow suggests that utilities should be able to count existing plants, including nuclear power, towards meeting the standard. If all that meeting the standard requires is acknowledging the status quo, then what change would that bring?

“We look forward to working with Rep. Markey, Chairman Waxman and all members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to support the development of a robust renewable energy standard which will diversify our energy mix, create new job opportunities, improve our national security and reduce our global warming pollution.”

* “Yes We Can: Southern Solutions for a National RES” can be found at # # #