On April 10, President Obama fired the starting gun when he submitted to Congress his budget request for the 2014 fiscal year. The budget contains numerous proposals that are intended to make the U.S. "the leader in the clean energy sector and bring about a clean energy economy with new companies and jobs."
According to the White House, the budget would boost funding for work on clean energy technology by 30% over 2012’s enacted level. That amounts to $7.9 billion across all federal agencies, with the lion’s share going to the Department of Energy (“DOE”). The budget earmarks a total of $6.2 billion for DOE projects, including:
- $614 million to “increase the use and reduce the costs of clean renewable power from solar, wind, geothermal and water energy,”
- $80 million to advance clean energy integration into the delivery grid, and
- $282 million to develop the next generation of advanced biofuels.
Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the budget announcement was President Obama’s call for a permanent and refundable production tax credit (”PTC”). The White House believes the permanent PTC would “provide a strong, consistent incentive to encourage investments in renewable energy technologies and to help meet our goal to double generation from wind, solar and geothermal sources by 2020.” Whereas in the past renewable energy developers have been subject to Congress’ yearly vacillations, a permanent PTC would create a more stable environment for the development of wind, solar, and geothermal projects.
Although the budget proposal is an important first step, it’s important to remember that at this point, President Obama’s proposal is just that – a proposal. The document must still jump numerous hurdles in Congress before it crosses the finish line and returns to the White House for his signature.