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RENEWABLES BUDGET ALSO UNDER THREAT

President Bill Clinton's planned cuts in the DOE's budget for the next five years are in danger of being subjected to further cuts by the new and more conservative US Congress which is threatening the renewables budget.

Although President Clinton's planned $10.6 billion cuts in the US energy department could have some impact on renewables, a more immediate threat looms. The renewables budget currently under way could also be endangered by the new, more conservative US Congress. The Republican controlled US Senate and House of Representatives could cut wind's $49 million in programmes already proceeding for fiscal year 1995, which actually started in October last year.

Clinton says he will axe $10.6 billion over five years from the Department of Energy (DOE) as part of his promised $78 billion in federal budget cuts. In December, Susan Tierney, the DOE's assistant secretary for policy, planning and evaluation, said that efficiency, renewables and gas will remain department priorities -- but that everyone is likely to feel the pinch.

Even so, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) does not see the next wind budget proposed by Clinton as being lower. The White House is expected to propose "level" of funding for fiscal year 1996, to start in eight months, says AWEA's Randy Swisher. But he cautions that the new US Congress is more of an unknown. Since the congressional session started in January, the right-of-centre Republicans have controlled both houses on Capitol Hill for the first time in decades.

Although the fiscal year 1995 budget has been approved and appropriated, Congress members could use the so-called revision process to cut it. But he says the likelihood of the Republican's goals of massively cutting government and balancing the budget is uncertain. Although they want cuts, there is little agreement on what is dispensable. "The more you look at the specifics, the less consensus you see," says Swisher.

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