The United States needs a comprehensive energy policy and that policy should include a renewable energy standard, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., told a crowd of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs at the Global New Energy Summit in Colorado Springs on Tuesday.
Udall, who authored, championed and ultimately helped pass the 2010 Solar Uniting Communities bill that allowed people to take the same 30 percent federal tax credit for solar panels that would be part of a community solar garden as they would get if they installed them on their own roof, sits on the Senate’s energy and natural resources committee.
While a renewable energy standard is important and one of his top priorities, Udall warned those attending the conference that government would probably be slow to act until it can settle the budget and deficit issues.
“Job number one for me is getting our economy back on its feet,” Udall said in a press conference after his speech. “We lost 17 million jobs. And until people have the opportunity to work again, our country is not going to grow.”
He said he believes creating an energy policy and supporting energy innovation are keys to growing the economy.
Udall introduced a bill earlier this month that would require utilities to produce 25 percent of their power using renewable source by 2025.
“I’ve fought for an aggressive national standard in part because of the success we’ve seen in Colorado, where large utilities must provide 30 percent of their power from renewable source by 2020” Udall said. “The increased demand for clean energy has become a driver for our economy, helping to create at least 30,000 new jobs in the last decade alone.”
He referenced four new Vestas wind farms, the new solar co-generation plant in the southern part of the state and the planned and proposed solar growth in Colorado’s San Luis Valley as projects that haven’t only created jobs, but have also provided utility customers with clean power.
Udall said he would support a Federal clean energy standard, which would include technologies like carbon-capture clean coal plants and new nuclear plants. President Barack Obama has championed a standard that would require utilities to get 80 percent of their power from clean sources by 2035.
While Udall favors a renewable energy standard, he said he still supports new nuclear, especially small modular plants.
Image courtesy of NewWest.net