In a conference call on Wednesday Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the Obama administration supports the extension of�key stimulus-funded renewable energy subsidy programs, including the very popular 1603 cash grants.
The grants “were widely popular,” Chu says in a conference call with cleantech and renewable energy business executives. “Ideally we would like to see those [grants] extended…” he adds. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’s John Doerr joined Chu in the call.
Over the past year the Treasury Department, which administers the 1603 grant program, has distributed more than $3 $5.2 billion in grants, of that wind farms .� The funding supports up to 30 percent of a renewable energy project’s total cost. The grants are expected to end at the end of the year.
Chu concedes that with ongoing concern in Congress s about the federal deficit, extending the 1603 grants will be challenging. “Congress is worried about deficit spending but these [grants] programs have been successful and if choices have to be made, these are good choices to make,” Chu says.
So far the DOE has allocated nearly all of the (99.9 percent, according to Chu) stimulus funds. The stimulus programs is expected to double the country’s renewable energy capacity by 2012, Chu adds.
On the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), Chu says a federal standard would help prop-up the deployment of renewable energy and cleantech.
Over the coming year, Chu says the DOE will continue to�support Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects, including the FutureGen initiative for which the DOE has committed $1 billion. The DOE also plans to support efforts that seek� to significantly cut the costs of�photovoltaic solar power, at price levels, Chu said,� that are “well ahead of industry expectation.”