Arguing that spending in alternative energy will create jobs and increase domestic security, the Obama administration’s 2012 budget calls for an increase in energy spending, stressing support of clean and alternative energy technology. Among continued research and development funding, the proposal sets aside $3.2 billion for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.
Nuclear energy is also back in vogue, with Obama requesting $36 billion in loan guarantees for the domestic nuclear energy. No new nuclear projects have started in the past four decades, so dedicating money to build even one power plant would completely change the industry. The Department of Energy estimates that this money could be used to construct “9 to 13 new reactors”; currently, 104 reactors operate at 65 power plants in the United States, generating about 100 billion kilowatts every year.
So if nuclear is in, what’s out? Big oil: the budget proposes slashing fossil fuel subsidies, ending preferential taxes, and reducing fossil fuel research and development funding. Other savings will also come from shutting down the particle accelerator at Fermi Lab here in Illinois, a move that was announced this January. Hydrogen cell technology is also facing severe budget cuts.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you were hoping for a hydrogen-powered car for Christmas, you might be out of luck. But if you’re looking to lower your power costs (and you’re already in the right place), this funding could help build more power plants, and lead to more renewable energy initiatives. More suppliers could help lower electricity costs, which–no matter your politics–is good news.
For more info:
- Obama’s energy budget: http://www.energy.gov/news/10064.htm
- Nuclear energy in the US: http://www.eia.doe.gov/nuclear/
- Illinois nuclear generators: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_Illinois
- Overview of energy consumption: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States
- New York Times coverage of the energy budget: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/obamas-shout-out-for-energy/#more-91633
- Lockheed Martin designing control room systems for new reactor in Newport, MI http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/wire/chi-ap-mi-newreactor,0,3315097.story
Post by Anna Scott
About Anna: I’m a senior at the University of Chicago. My major is mathematics, but I spend a lot of my time studying environmental issues like climate change, weather, and energy efficiency. I’m excited to be joining the Power2Swtich team and blogging about energy issues.
- Obama 2012 budget provides $8 billion for clean energy (reuters.com)
- What You Need to Know About Obama’s Budget & Energy (gigaom.com)