Conservation Groups Urge Congress to Help Move Large Scale Renewable Energy Projects Forward

Jun 1, 2011

House Natural Resources Committee to hold 2nd hearing on “roadblocks” to renewable energy development on public lands

A coalition of environmental groups working on renewable energy development told a congressional committee today that the unprecedented expansion of wind, solar and geothermal generation over the past two years represented real progress toward a clean energy future and was the result of coordination between their groups, renewable energy companies and federal agencies.

In a statement to the House Committee on Natural Resources the groups pointed out that in 2010 nine solar energy projects, one wind project and two geothermal projects were permitted on public lands in the West – totaling some 4,000 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity. Before 2009, fewer than 500 megawatts had been permitted on public lands.

The “real roadblock” to renewable energy development on public lands, they said, is the lack of certainty for financing and the use of first-of-a-kind technology at this scale.

Read the full letter here

The following are statements from the Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council and The Wilderness Society:

“Over the past two years, we’ve made an extraordinary commitment to developing clean, renewable energy projects in the right places,” said Chase Huntley, Clean Energy Policy Advisor with The Wilderness Society.

"Conservation organizations have joined developers and key utilities to overcome some of the challenges to getting these projects and technologies approved. And thanks to this collaboration, many projects permitted to date have been improved, and consensus is emerging around rules of the road that will afford greater certainty that projects permitted will be projects built. There are still challenges and we believe a healthy dialogue and commitment from Congress and the Department of the Interior can move us past some of those barriers.”

“Without a sustained commitment of federal funding to develop renewable energy, the solar, wind and geothermal industries will struggle to secure necessary capital while oil and gas reap the benefits of permanent tax breaks,” said Jim Lyons, Senior Director for Renewable Energy with Defenders of Wildlife. “We continue to make progress in working with the Obama administration and the solar and wind energy industries to improve project siting and identify ways to accelerate permitting. But the lack of a long-term commitment to capital continues to work against us and will thwart progress in building the clean energy economy.”

“Financial uncertainty is the real roadblock to clean energy development on public lands,” said Bobby McEnaney, Public Lands Analyst. “We’ve never made the same financial commitment to renewables as we have to more mature energy sources. Renewable energy developers aren’t asking for special treatment – only a level playing-field with other industries. In just two years, we’ve seen how much progress they can make when funding is available. ”

Chase Huntley
202-429-7431