Energy Update: U.S. Military Stealth in It's Pursuit of Smart Grid Technology, Wind Energy PTC Fosters Growth

There is more than one way to skin a cat.  The U.S. Military has been stealth in their efforts to use renewable technologies and employ energy efficiency.   The Republican Leadership in the House does their best to denigrade  clean energy investments by DOE and the EPA but the U.S. military has taken up the slack.  The military has been involved in smart grid technology in what seems like every possible way, from its buildings to field operations:  renewable energy,  batteries and storage, microgrids and more. DoD's recently released Operational Energy Strategy Implementation Plan strengthens that commitment considerably with ambitious targets for increased efficiency and increased use of renewables, notably in the form of biofuels.  

The military has been using energy efficiency, microgrid, tactical solar and other smart grid technologies overseas in Afghanistan to reduce our vulnerability of fuel convoys to attacks.  A  sampling of what the DoD plans to do in the years to come are:

·         Obtain 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025

·         Use 50% biofuels for Air Force domestic aviation by 2016

·         Cut fuel use 15% in Navy ships by 2020, and reduce dependence on fossil fuel 50% in the next 10 years

Tom Gray has an excellent response to arguments in opposition to a Production Tax Credit.  He points out that the wind industry is growing rapidly and providing an increasing number of new manufacturing jobs which require  a stable, predictable tax policy to flourish. This point was made more generally in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed (see WSJ op-ed: 'Want Growth? Try Stable Tax Policy', January 5, 2012). Stability has been sorely lacking ...since this PTC has never been renewed for more than three years at a time.  U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) stated in a recent Politico op-ed, "Low, stable tax rates generate jobs and economic growth. This idea has been the bedrock of conservative economic ideology for decades. One industry that represents this essential conservative principle is U.S. wind energy. Low taxes in the form of the federal Production Tax Credit for wind have driven as much as $20 billion of private investment a year into the U.S. economy. Wind power is now one of America’s biggest sources of new electricity and fastest growing manufacturing sectors. It has accounted for more than a third of all new U.S. electric generation in recent years."    It should be noted that  current and past subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power have played a major role in helping the United States develop its enormous domestic energy resources, but they have also helped the recipient industries gain a dominant position in the marketplace.