Jan 152015
 

Geothermal energy is energy that is produced by heat from the Earth. This heat results from decaying radioactive elements in the Earth’s mantle. It is estimated that the thermal energy situated within 6 miles of Earth’s surface contains 50,000 times more energy than the world’s oil and natural gas reserves. Geothermal energy is acquired by tapping into underground reservoirs of heat that are often located near volcanoes, hot springs and geysers. Some geothermal power plants capture steam that naturally vents at these formations. Other plants drill boreholes and pump water into the rock surrounding these geothermal features. In either case, steam is captured in pipes that lead to turbines which turn electrical generators. In 2012, about 0.41% of America’s electricity was produced by geothermal energy. However, nearly 5% of California’s total electricity needs are furnished by its 40 geothermal power plants, led by The Geysers, the largest group of geothermal power plants in the world. Supporters claim geothermal power is clean, sustainable, offers constant output and is grossly underutilized. They also say that geothermal energy can be developed in areas where there is no volcanic activity.

Pending Legislation:

S.362 – Geothermal Exploration and Technology Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current geothermal power policy and wish to defeat S.362

I support establishing a direct loan program for high risk geothermal exploration wells, giving preference to loans to carry out projects that are likely to lead to successful new geothermal electricity production; requiring data from exploratory wells to be used in mapping national geothermal resources; determining the number of wells for each selected geothermal project for which a loan may be made; identifying and mitigating potential environmental impacts; making grants to promote the development of geothermal heat pumps and the direct use of geothermal energy; giving priority to proposals that apply to large buildings, commercial districts, and residential communities, and wish to pass S.362

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Since 2010, the cost of solar panels has dropped by 50% and this downward trend is expected to continue. Advances in technology are also expected to greatly increase solar panel efficiency. The cost of installing a residential solar system has decreased more than 20% during this time and is now about $4.90/watt. The cost of installing a utility-scale solar system has dropped nearly 46% to $2.60/watt. Coal power plants and large wind turbines produce electricity for installation costs of about $2.10/watt and $2.00/watt respectively. The construction costs for natural gas-fired power plants are around $1.00/watt. Broad estimates of the cost of generating electricity by nuclear power plants range from $4.00 to $10.00 per watt. The total cost of an average residential solar system is now about $30,000. Creative financing, leasing and government subsidies have also contributed to industry growth which is nearly doubling each year. Doubters claim it will take decades for solar power to compete with conventional power plants. However, supporters say the output of large solar farms now being constructed rival that of small nuclear power plants -which create waste, are dangerous, and are much more expensive and time consuming to build. Despite the limitations of night and weather, supporters say there is a significant place for solar power in today’s energy market, and that place is growing.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.596 – Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current solar energy policy and wish to defeat H.R.596

I support requiring the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a wind and solar leasing pilot program under which lease sales are conducted on covered public lands administered by the Secretary concerned to carry out wind and solar energy projects; requiring the Secretaries to jointly determine as to whether to expand the pilot program to apply to all covered public lands, and wish to pass H.R.596

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

A wind turbine uses two or three propeller-like blades to convert kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy that is used to turn an electric generator. This process is known as wind power. The blade-diameter of the biggest wind turbines can reach 130 feet while the smallest are used for charging batteries and for auxiliary power on boats. A wind farm is a power plant that uses many wind turbines to generate electricity and can cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles. Large grid-connected arrays of wind turbines are becoming an increasingly important source of commercial electricity. Currently, there are no offshore wind farms in the United States. However, projects are under development in wind-rich areas of the East Coast, Great Lakes and Pacific Coast. To expedite the development of this resource, the Department of Interior has approved “wind energy areas” off our coasts and is allowing these projects to move quickly through the approval process. Opponents say wind farms are harmful to birds, whales and other wildlife, and are too noisy to live beside. However, recent studies have shown offshore wind farms act as artificial reefs which attract fish, crustaceans, and seals which feed upon them. Our Interior Department, noting this vast untapped resource, astonishingly claims the potential of offshore wind power offers more than four times our current electricity needs. By the end of 2013, land-based wind power accounted for a third of all our new electrical capacity and produced 4.1% of our power needs, or the equivalent of powering 15.5 million homes. Our first offshore wind farm has recently been approved for construction after winning court cases and federal loan guarantees. The 130-turbine project slated for the shallow waters of Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts is expected to lead the way for many such projects in the future.

Pending Legislation:

S.401 & H.R.924 – Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act

I oppose reforming current wind power policy and wish to defeat S.401 & H.R.924

I support allowing a 30% tax credit for investment in a qualifying offshore wind power facility; establishing a qualifying credit for offshore wind facilities program to consider and award certifications for investments eligible for such a credit to qualifying offshore wind facility sponsors, and wish to pass S.401 & H.R.924

 Posted by at 12:00 am