Three-quarters of Americans support for Federal purchases of renewable energy

Three-quarters of Americans favour increasing US government purchases of renewable energy according to an opinion poll carried out for the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and the Sustainable Energy Coalition.

Some 54 percent of people polled strongly favoured an increase in US government purchases of renewable energy, while 21 percent favoured more purchases. “This poll shows that the public supports the use of renewable energy,” said Larry Sherwood, Executive Director of ASES. “Federal purchasing of renewable energy is a wise investment in the future, an investment with a return that will far exceed its costs.”

ASES has called on Congress and President Clinton to increase federal purchases of renewable energy. The Federal government spends $8 billion per year on energy, including $3.5 billion for electricity. ASES claims that by relying on renewable energy to supply 0.5 per cent of its power needs by the year 2000, the US government could prevent 51,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

Because the current up-front costs of renewable energy are higher than fossil fuel costs, the US government purchases very little renewable energy technology. Although renewable energy systems often cost less than fossil fuel systems over the long term, federal regulations and accounting practices favour technologies that are less expensive to purchase initially, so renewable energy sources appear less attractive.

The ASES says that large government purchases of renewable energy technologies would lower the net manufacturing costs of renewable energy technologies, leading to increased private market demand, higher production levels and greater utilisation.

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