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U.S. Democratic Party Calls For Extension Of Renewable Energy Incentives

Renewable energy technologies including solar and Climate Change are mentioned in the official platform of the U.S. Democratic Party, which was presented at its nominating convention September 4th-6th, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.


The Democratic Party has called for an extension of renewable energy subsidies and an end to tax subsidies for oil companies, and describes Climate Change as "one of the biggest threats of this generation". On all of these points the party stands in stark contrast to the opposition Republican Party.


“America’s solar industry is pleased that the Democratic platform recognizes solar’s important role and fully supports the platform’s goal of making renewables a larger part of our nation’s overall energy mix," states Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President and CEO Rhone Resch.


"SEIA further applauds the call to extend the clean energy incentives that have led to record growth and job creation in the domestic solar industry."


Wind and solar double under Obama


U.S. President Barack Obama has noted that the amount of electricity generated by wind and solar has doubled since he took office, which is reiterated in the platform. The timing of this development coincides with a global expansion of the solar and wind industries, as well as dramatically falling solar photovoltaic (PV) prices.


However, policies passed by President Obama are widely credited with assisting in the dramatic growth rate of the U.S. PV industry, despite the recession.


Specifically, the president has called for an extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind and a revival of the Section 1603 Treasury Grant Program. The Section 1603 program was originally introduced in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("stimulus"), one of the signature pieces of legislation supported by and signed by President Obama during his first term.


Unambitious renewable energy goals


Despite these successful policies, U.S. President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have set unambitious goals for renewable energy. The DNC platform reiterates an "all-of-the-above" approach to developing U.S. energy resources, as well as a goal of 80% "clean" energy by 2035, echoing legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate.


This legislation featured a very broad definition of "clean" energy, including not only nuclear power but natural gas and coal generation with carbon capture and storage. A such, the impact of this legislation would likely be limited to reducing conventional coal generation to roughly half of its current level over a time frame of 23 years.


Climate Change finally mentioned


In this way, the Platform is similar to a energy policy white paper released by Republican Candidate Mitt Romney, in that both would suggest to the casual observer a more favorable approach to renewable energy than is shown by the actual policies of either party.


On the issue of Climate Change the difference between the messaging of the parties is more clear. While President Obama has avoided mentioning Climate Change on the campaign trail, the Democratic Party platform uses the term twenty times, often in references to threats to national security.


Large sections of the Republican Party continue to deny the existence of man-made Climate Change, and Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney has made light of the issue in speeches.