Stimulus bill pleases clean-energy boosters

Provisions in President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill are stimulating excitement among clean-energy advocates in Colorado.

Scott Ely, owner of Sunsense Inc., a solar-energy company in Carbondale, said he’s happy to hear Obama is including a renewable energy component in his bill, even if the details of that part of the bill remain unclear.

“There’s a number of technologies that should and could benefit from this stimulus package to create jobs and reduce dependence on oil,” Ely said.

Keith Hay, energy advocate for Environment Colorado, a nonprofit organization with about 30,000 members, said his group likes the bill’s energy-efficiency measures, such as helping Americans weatherproof their homes.

“We are very excited about the renewable energy and energy-efficiency pieces of the bill,” he said.

Environment Colorado estimates the bill, which the House approved Wednesday, allocates at least $80 billion in clean-energy funding. Hay cheered the House’s passage of an amendment Wednesday to add another $3 billion to the $11.6 billion the bill already allocates for public transit and clean transportation.

He said the amendment would result in an additional $3.3 million in improvements for existing public transit systems in rural Colorado.

Ely said federal incentives for solar-energy installations already are the best they’ve ever been, and they may get better under Obama’s plan, further boosting the industry.

“Lots of people are looking to change careers, and they see solar and renewable energy as an excellent opportunity to do that,” he said.

Jon Bargas, director of public affairs for the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, said his group applauds Obama’s efforts to lead the nation toward a cleaner energy future. At the same time, it will be important to help the new president understand the role natural gas will have to play in meeting energy demands “when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining,” he said.

With vast amounts of gas beneath federal lands in the West, Bargas said he hopes the federal government’s policies will provide enough access to those lands to help meet the nation’s demands.

ConocoPhillips, which has natural gas operations near Parachute, said in a statement this month it supports Obama’s vision for a green-energy economy. But the company says the nation needs a comprehensive national energy policy that includes energy-supply diversity, with oil and gas helping bridge the gap until alternative and renewable energy fuels are more available.

It says such a policy also should encourage development of nontraditional fossil fuels, including oil shale.


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