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The Race for Renewables


Renewables Constitute All New US Electricity Capacity Added in January

February 20th 2013

Wind Farm

Renewable energy accounted for all new electric capacity added in the United States last month, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In all, 1,231 megawatts of new generating capacity were installed in January. Of that total, wind provided 958 megawatts, solar chipped in 267 megawatts and biomass contributed 6 megawatts.

That's a marked difference from January 2012, when coal led the way with 808 megawatts of the 1,693 megawatts added. Natural gas followed with 445 megawatts, and wind tossed in 276 megawatts to take the pole for renewables. On Wednesday, President Obama sought to expand promotion of renewable energy by reviving the Commerce Department’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee.

Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank appointed 37 private-sector members to the committee on Wednesday. It will feature members from trade associations, private firms and nonprofit organizations from a range of energy industries.

The panel, originally formed in 2010, had previously worked on strengthening the renewable and energy efficiency’s industry’s export competitiveness. “The renewable energy and energy efficiency sector holds tremendous growth potential, and transitioning to cleaner, safer, and affordable sources of energy is a high priority for the Department of Commerce and for President Obama," Blank said in a statement.

The committee’s relaunch comes one week after Obama pledged during his State of the Union address to double electricity generating capacity from renewable energy by 2020. The U.S. already doubled its electric generating capacity from renewable sources between 2008 and 2012, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Business Council for Sustainable Energy report released last month.

To double it again, Obama called on Congress to make the renewable energy production tax credit permanent. Currently, Congress must renew that credit — which pays wind, biomass, geothermal and other energy producers on a per-kilowatt-hour basis — every couple of years.

Zack Colman writes for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.

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