Evaluating Romney and Obama’s Plans for Alternative Energy

I planned this post with the intention of comparing how President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney stand on alternative energy and how those policies might potentially affect New York. However, the websites for both candidates are remarkably lacking in any specifics on those issues. While both give general overviews for energy and the environment – and Romney’s omissions on green energy are the more telling – it’s hard to say based on official policy statements what either would do in relation to renewables in the next four years.

Obama’s “all of the above” strategy clearly includes clean energy alternatives like wind and solar, but all his talking points focus on what was accomplished during his first term, not what his plans are if reelected. Though one could assume he would continue to support those industries, I would have liked to see more on how he plans to do so. For example, Gov. Cuomo may have just signed three bills that will give a big boost to solar energy in New York, but those who wish to install PV on their homes or businesses also rely on federal incentives to mitigate the costs of such a venture.

Although Romney claims he wants to “embrace and develop all of our domestic energy sources,” his energy policy starts out by bashing Obama’s green jobs initiatives then segues into how we could significantly ramp up domestic oil and natural gas production. Buried towards the end of the plan is Romney’s opinion that “The failure of windmills and solar plants to become economically viable or make a significant contribution to our energy supply is a prime example” of the “time and money wasted on projects that do not bring us dividends.” He may have been referring to his aversion to government loans to companies like Solyndra, but this is clearly not a candidate who views alternative energy favorably.

On the campaign trail, the candidates have managed to be a little bit more specific about certain renewable energy topics. Romney and Ryan, for example, oppose extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind – set to expire at the end of the year – while the Obama camp favors renewal. If the tax credit is not renewed, it could negatively impact the Long Island – New York City Offshore Wind Project, a 350 MW wind farm proposed by a coalition of downstate utilities.

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