President Obama sent his budget request to Congress on Monday.
A budget illustrates an administration's real goals, shorn of rhetoric and posturing. So despite Republican attacks on the Obama administration's renewable energy focus and the failures at Solyndra, Beacon, and possibly Fisker -- this budget proposal continues to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency. It is less enthusiastic about the loan guarantee program.
The budget request includes language on a "Clean Energy Standard" that seeks to generate 80 percent of the country's electrical power from solar, wind and (the arguably green) nuclear and natural gas by 2035. The request includes increased funding for all of those energy sources.
Here are some of the highlights of the energy portion of the budget:
- The budget provides for an extension of the Section 1603 Treasury Program, a program that addresses the scarcity of tax equity for financing solar projects.
- The budget proposes the repeal of over $4 billion per year in "inefficient" tax subsidies to oil, gas, and other fossil fuel producers.
- The budget proposes funding the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at $2.33 billion, an increase from 2012 figures.
- $310 million for the SunShot Initiative to make solar power at grid parity without subsidies by 2020.
- $95 million for wind power, including offshore wind technologies.
- $65 million for geothermal power and enhanced geothermal energy technology.
- $770 million for the Office of Nuclear Energy, including funding to research and develop small modular reactors (SMRs).
- The DOE receives $27.2 billion under the budget request, a 3 percent increase from 2012 levels.
- The Office of Science would receive $5 billion to fund basic research.
- The beleaguered DOE loan guarantee program would not win any expanded funding, though the budget does call for maintaining the current loan portfolio.
Obviously, this opening salvo and commitment to renewable energy will face massive opposition on Capitol Hill. But it is a budget that maintains steadfast support for a cleaner energy mix in the U.S.
The energy policies proposed by Republican front-runners Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich favor increased reliance on domestic coal, oil, gas, and nuclear.