The growing popularity and publicity of alternative sources of energy has motivated both the federal government and individual states to introduce various incentives to encourage the installation and use of products that are energy efficient. There are several different types of tax-based incentives for homeowners, including property tax incentives, federal and state personal tax credits for use of renewables involving solar energy, and for using energy efficient equipment. While these programs have garnered broad support from consumers, state and local governments, and environmental scientists, there are those who question the cost effectiveness and legitimacy of the stated benefits to expanding use of alternative energy sources.
Resistance from Businesses and Conservative Think Tanks
In 2012 a representative of the American Enterprise Institute testified before Congress against the benefits of government subsidies for renewable energy sources. In over twenty-two pages of testimony, this organization questioned the cost-effectiveness of the efficient energy industry, the resources required to establish energy efficient structures like wind turbines, power output potential, and economic factors such as employment. It is important to note that the American Enterprise Institute has received funding from companies in industries such as oil and gas that stand to see reduced profits if renewable energy sources are aggressively developed, so their testimony may display a certain conflict of interest.
Critics of renewable energy subsidies also frequently cite the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a company heavily supported by the federal government in the form of a $500 million low-interest loan, as evidence against the wisdom of supporting clean energy ventures. The backing of Solyndra was the centerpiece of an $80 billion commitment by the Obama administration to explore and develop clean-energy technology.
States Leading the Way on Green Energy Innovation
Taking the lead from the federal government’s renewed interest in reducing emissions, several states have implemented significant measures of their own. The State of California has by all accounts been a leader in encouraging residents and businesses to adopt green practices and technologies. An executive order signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger requires 33% of all retail sales of energy in the state to come from renewable sources by 2020. Several supporting pieces of legislation over the last few years have added ambitious targets to the timeline including 20% by the end of 2013, and 25% by 2016. The state also encourages the installation of solar panels through extensive incentive and tax credit programs that expand on those incentives offered by the federal government. These programs have helped California save close to 70,000 GwH in 2012 with an associated savings to utility customers of $79 billion.
Washington is another state that has made significant contributions to the green energy movement, with much of that progress coming from the private sector. In addition to wind turbines, the state generates a massive amount of emission-free electricity through dams along the Columbia River. The potential of hydroelectricity, and the general culture of innovation, has attracted billions of dollars in venture capital from outside investors. Voters in Washington have also approved measures to promote green energy in passing initiative 937 which requires utilities serving more than 25,000 customers to acquire 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. The initiative also compels those companies to pursue all cost-effective measures to conserve energy.
This article was written by Linda Paulson, an environmental activist who hopes to make the world a greener place. She writes this on behalf of Tara Energy, your number one choice when in need of electricity in Texas. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!