Energy is fundamental to Americaís quality of life, economic health and
security. President Bush recognized the importance of a comprehensive
energy policy to our countryís well being and put an early focus on developing
a plan to provide a dependable, diverse supply of affordable and environmentally
sound energy to meet current and future needs.
One way our energy supply can be increased and diversified is through
the production of renewable energy. Renewable energy uses naturally replenished
energy from the sun, wind, water, earthís heat and vegetation to produce
the energy we need in our lives.
Renewable energy currently supplies 9% of our energy supply. If we exclude
hydropower, renewable energy supplies only 2% of the nationís electricity
needs. Nonetheless, the growth in renewable energy generation over the
past decade has been impressiveó approximately 30% since 1990. This trend
for non-hydropower renewable energy generation is expected to continue,
both at home and abroad. Alternatively, the growth in hydropower has slowed
over the last several decades. Today, hydropower contributes almost 95,000MW
of generating capacity in the United States and over 14,700MW of that
capacity is owned and operated by Interiorís Bureau of Reclamation.
Today, Interiorís public lands produce 17 percent of the nationís hydropowerówhich
is virtually 100 percent of all residential electricity use in the state
of Washington, or 27% of all West Coast residential electricity use. The
public lands produce approximately 10 percent of all domestic wind energy
and 48 percent of our nationís geothermal power.
Renewable energy has inherent advantages: it is typically clean energy
that does not produce greenhouse gases. Renewable resources occur naturally
and abundantly. Electricity from renewable sources provides long-term
pricing stability in what has been a volatile electricity market. And,
in addition to providing power for remote areas far from power lines,
the development of renewable energy can create jobs and revenue for rural
There are also a number of barriers to the development of renewable energy.
One is reliability. Wind and solar energy depend on the weather and therefore
are not 100 percent reliable. Renewable energy also faces some of the
same environmental challenges as fossil fuel development. Wind and geothermal
projects throughout the United States face opposition over potential impacts
to wildlife, view-sheds, and sacred sites. Probably the biggest barrier
to renewable energy development is lack of available and affordable transmission
capacity to deliver the energy to the customer.
The Department of Interior is playing a major role in achieving the Presidentís
renewable energy goals, and is moving aggressively to implement the recommendations
of the National Energy Policy. Interior has developed and is implementing
new policies to promote increasdevelopment of wind, geothermal, solabiomass
energy resources on the public lands. A significant part of this effort
involves removinadministrative and other process barriers to reducepermitting
backlogs while providing careful oversight to ensure these energy resources
ardeveloped in full compliance with existing laand regulations and in
an environmentally sound and economically feasible manner.
Working with other Federal Departments, State and local governments, Tribes,
and local ommunities, the Department is applying innovative approaches
to achieve an increase of renewable energy production, primarily on Interior-managed
Additionally, the Department promotes energy conservation and uses renewable
energy resources in an incresing number of Department facilities throughout
the country. It is estimated that over 400 Interior facilities- office
buildings, campgrounds, weather and fire monitoring stations and traffic
signsare powered by wind and solar energy. The Department spent $26 million
for facility energy improvements in 2003 and conserved 32 percent more
energy than it did in 1983. In 2003, the Department also purchased 923
watts of electricity from renewable sources, enough to provide 5 percent
of the power for the Main Interior building in Washington, DC. (The Main
Interior Building houses over 2000 people.)
Although renewable energy resources comprise only a small percentage of
the nationís ppendices eothermal Leasing Statistics, Existing Leases strative
State le Energy Programs total energy portfolio, they are a rapidly growing
energy source and can provide a brightpicture for Americaís energy future.