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  • Interior Secretary Salazar Still Bullish on Solar Despite High-Profile Setbacks

    At a Friday visit to the Golden, Colorado, campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar characterized the bankruptcies and delays that have plagued the solar manufacturing sector as “just minor (and expected) blips for the industry.”

    Salazar told Denver’s alt-weekly Westword, “Any time you’re dealing with an emerging future on energy, you’re always going to have successes and you’re going to have setbacks,” he says. “And President Obama and I remain very confident that we’re moving in the right direction.”

    Salazar likened the difficulties of the solar industry to the early days of automobile manufacturing, complete with “forward steps and setbacks.”

    Salazar’s visit to the lab celebrated the department’s recent approval of the 31st renewable energy project, a 350-megawatt solar plant in Nevada:

    Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) campus in Golden, Colorado where he toured the 327-acre campus’ state-of-the-art facilities and met with scientists regarding ongoing research on the development, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy.

    “Across the Administration, we’re looking at ways to create jobs and strengthen the economy – and a big part of that is building a sustainable, clean energy future,” Salazar said. “The innovative research that they’re doing here at NREL is playing a critical role in developing new technologies that can compete in the marketplace. When we talk about President Obama’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy, it starts in places like these laboratories.”

    Salazar’s visit comes on the heels of Interior’s approval of the 31st utility-scale renewable energy project since 2009 as part of a Department-wide effort to advance smart development of renewable energy on our nation’s public lands. The 17 solar projects, 6 wind farms and 8 geothermal facilities, when built by the companies, will provide approximately 7,200 megawatts of power to communities across the West, or enough to power nearly 2.5 million homes.

    These achievements build on the historic expansion of renewable energy under President Obama, with energy from sources like wind and solar doubling since the President took office.

    Salazar’s touting of job creation is at odds with the Department of Energy’s David Frantz, who oversees the DOE loan guarantee program. Last week before a congressional committee reviewing the No More Solyndras Act, Frantz told House members that these large, utility-scale renewable projects really could not be counted upon for creating jobs.

    “The predominance of our portfolio — and the objective, really, of the act — is to be creating large infrastructure, utility-scale projects; and, by definition, they are not a multiplier for job creation,” Frantz said.

    Taxpayer-funded programs, grants, and loan guarantees do not create jobs, noted Heritage’s Nick Loris. He said they simply shift them from one sector of the economy to another. The opportunity cost of government spending is the lost labor and capital extracted from other sectors (ones that do not need government support) of the economy to artificially support the politically preferred ones. Subsidizing inefficient technologies is an economic drain, not an economic stimulator–or a job multiplier.

    Yet Salazar remains insistent about the necessity of the program, to “continue the momentum” despite “stumbling blocks along the way.”

    “But I’m confident that in the arc of the history of the world, that we’re headed in the right direction,” said Salazar.

    Posted in Featured, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Interior Secretary Salazar Still Bullish on Solar Despite High-Profile Setbacks

    1. Lloyd Scallan says:

      You still don't get it! It's not Salazar, it's Obama. Regardless of how many times Obama trots out one of his puppits, Obama is pulling the strings that control the puppit's mouth and the words are coming from behind the curtain where Obama is hiding.

    2. O2BMe says:

      When Solar Energy is ready for Prime Time and profitable private industry will jump in and do it. At this time it is a waste of tax dollars when our Country is near bankruptcy. Right now it belongs with Science Fiction.

    3. r daybell says:

      Where will the solar panels be made!

    4. zff says:

      Salazar just doesn't get it. Make all your dreamy eye investments with your own money, not ours!

      Also, the problems were minor and 'expected?" Obama sure didn't seem to expect it when he stood in front of Solyandra and praised it to high heaven. Minor? The solar industry is still basically where it was over 30 years ago. The problem is the technology itself, not how it's been executed.

      And the comparison to the automobile is laughable in two ways: a) those are two very different types of technologies and b) we had reliable and affordable cars within a mere two decades of its invention, while solar is still sputtering along after nearly 50 years of it's first conception.

    5. PAR says:

      I think clean energy subsidies are appropriate. For nascent newbies that haven't reached economies of scale, subsidies can get them over the hump so they can compete – "priming the pump". I think we all benefit in that case. The subsidies then fade away and we are left with a more diversified mix of energy. For instance the wind industry isn't looking for permanent aid, they are looking for 5 more years of help. Maybe risks like Solyndra were out of place, but we can all benefit from smart targeted policy.

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