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United States

Coalition puts pressure on Congress to increase support for renewables

The Sustainable Energy Coalition, a grouping of industry groups and energy policy makers, is calling on the US Congress to "substantially increase" federal support for a cross-section of renewable energy technologies, including wind power. It is lobbying the Energy & Water sub-committees of the US Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriations calling on them to increase the Department of Energy's renewable energy program budget for 2005 to $598.5 million. That is nearly 60% more than the $378.8 million proposed by President George Bush and two-thirds more than the 2004 budget of $357.5 million. While the coalition acknowledges there is increased pressure to get a handle on the US's burgeoning budget deficit, it argues that "renewable energy is growing and will continue to grow as alternatives become less plentiful and more expensive." Lukewarm domestic policy support, however, means that market share, technical expertise and jobs in this sector are increasingly moving overseas, the letter said. The coalition recommends a wind power research budget of $55 million, about one-third higher than the president's request for $41.7 million. "Funding would be focused on developing a next-generation wind turbine capable of operating in areas with lower wind speeds, thus expanding wind development potential by twenty times as well as allowing placement of turbines closer to existing transmission lines," says the report. "Funding also would be used to study increased integration of wind energy into the nation's power grid." The American Wind Energy Association is a member of the coalition.

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