Last night, ACORE awarded Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Renewable Energy Leader of the Decade as part of its 10th anniversary dinner in Washington DC.
Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) was honored for his exemplary Congressional leadership to advance renewable energy; Jeffrey Immelt of GE, for technological innovation and leadership; and Walmart, for leadership in purchasing and using renewables.
Schwarzenegger was honored for his decade of commitment and accomplishments in advancing renewable energy.
In his Keynote Address, "Between Fossil Fuels and Renewables", he calls for a level playing field, saying it's his personal crusade.
Here are some excerpts:
California is now a remarkable 40% more energy efficient than the rest of the US. If the rest of the US had the same efficiency as California, we could close 75% of our coal-fired power plants.
Because of our commitment to thinking big, California has consistently moved forward toward a green energy future.
While other states have been paralyzed and are waiting for a big international agreement, California has been using more and more renewable energy.
Right now, they're negotiating again in Durban, South Africa. I hope they come to an agreement soon, but let's not wait. Let's not be paralyzed.
While they are negotiating let's keep moving forward in the cities and states and provinces, and in the private sector and the non-profit sector and the universities.
Remember that the biggest movements in history didn't start at the top. They started at the grassroots level.
We should work in two directions - from the top down, and from the bottom up. One day, those two approaches will meet in the middle.
Despite the warnings of naysayers, California's policies - from tailpipe emissions reductions to the Million Solar Roofs to our historic climate change law, AB 32 - didn't lead to a new recession. Not at all. In fact, it was just the opposite.
Today, the brightest spot in California's economy is our green sector. One-third of U.S. clean tech venture capital flows into California. One in every four solar jobs in the U.S. is in California. A recent report showed that California's solar industry has doubled over the past five years. California generates more solar power than either France or China.
It is time for a level playing field for renewable energy and fossil fuels. Let's treat our energy sources equally and not pick winners. Now, I don't want to demonize fossil fuels. America got to be where it is today in large part because of those energy sources.
All I propose - and I am speaking to Congress and to all of the candidates running for president - is that all our energy sources play by the same rules.
The United States has always invested in developing new sources of energy. From the land grants for timber and coal in the 1800s / to the tax expenditures for oil and gas in the early 20th century / to the federal investment in developing nuclear energy... Support for energy innovation has always been a critical part of the American strategy.
The tragedy is that somehow we lost our way. We lost our vision. The subsidies given to the U.S. oil and gas industries during their first 15 years of development / in the beginning of the 20th century are 5 times greater than those available to the renewable energy industry now. Why?
From 2002-2008 fossil fuels got $70 billion and renewables got $12 billion. Why?
When I see the innovators / entrepreneurs / and the geniuses in this room, I know we can do it. I promise to be your cheerleader and carry our message around the world. I will do everything in my power to make this happen. I won't stop promoting green energy.
And from his editorial in the Washington Post:
Federal support for development of new energy sources is lower today than at any other point in U.S. history, and our government is forcing the clean-energy sector into a competitive disadvantage. To bring true competition to the energy market, ensure our national security and create jobs here rather than in China or elsewhere, we must level the playing field for renewable energies. In this presidential primary, Americans need to hear where the candidates stand on this critical issue.
Renewable energies, however, have not been treated the same way. When the oil, gas and nuclear industries were forming, federal support for those energies totaled as much as 1 percent of federal spending. Subsidies available to the renewables industry today are just one-tenth of 1 percent.
Federal investment is critical to the success of the renewable energy industry. That's not a new idea. The same was true for coal, which would not have been economically feasible without tax exemptions and incentives. It was also true for offshore oil drilling, which was deemed unprofitable without royalty waivers and favorable packaging of federal leases.
Read the full editorial: