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Political advice

While November's election results in California could benefit the wind industry in funding, the state energy commission chairman advises the wind and renewable energy industries to focus on developing credibility.

November's election results in California could be of benefit to the wind industry. Democrats took back control of the state Assembly where many Republicans were questioning the need for renewable energy support during debates on legislation for restructuring the state's electricity market.

Steve Peace, chairman of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications committee and prime architect of California's bill for deregulating the market, comments that California now has "a far more liberal" Assembly which translates into "far more individual support for renewable energy." Peace says this represents an opportunity for the wind industry, but also poses a danger. "If the industry misreads this development and decide they want to pig out, it could blow up in their face," says Peace, issuing a warning against the industry seeking larger subsidies in 1997.

At present, the California Energy Commission is charged with preparing a report on how to allocate some $540 million earmarked for renewables at the end of March, a report expected to form the basis for new legislation. Peace offers the following advice to the wind and renewable energy industries: "Don't try to exercise power when there are these political shifts. Political power is too ephemeral and is always less permanent than it appears. For long-term success, the renewable energy industry should focus on developing credibility. The industry needs stability and needs to decide where it wants to go."

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