Next fiscal year's federal wind funding in the US will probably now be lower than the industry had been led to believe a month ago, but still a marked improvement on the $30.353 million budget for 1994.
In the third week of July, Capitol Hill politicians were appointing members of a conference to debate the difference between $51.70 million approved for wind by the House of Representatives and $46 million approved by the Senate. Ultimately wind should get something inbetween.
The conference was expected to agree on a budget possibly as early as the very end of July, or even as late as after the summer recess.
The wind budget process has not been all plain sailing. President Clinton had recommended $51.71 million for commercialisation activities and research and development -- a request approved by the House of Representatives in late May. But to the dismay of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), a Senate funding panel slashed 1995 wind funding increases in late June to $40 million. This axe was soon blunted, though. After a floor amendment in early July, an appropriations bill was passed returning $6 million to wind, $6 million to solar and $2 million to hydrogen.
After the latest Senate vote returning the $6 million to wind, lobbyists were elated. "I think the sense of the Senate is clear -- that renewables are among the highest priorities of that body," said AWEA's Mike Marvin. The conference is held so members of the Senate and House of Representatives can iron out the differences between each of their versions.