September 3, 2009

Grants fuel clean energy, but has health care fight slowed the pace?

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If you browse today’s Washington and Oregon headlines, you’ll probably notice a beefy portion devoted to renewable energy grants.  No surprise, considering that just two days ago the winners of the first round of the government’s renewable energy grants were announced, dispersing a total of $503 million to 12 companies — 10 of them wind power, 3 of which are in Oregon, writes Eric Mortenson of The Oregonian.

But wind power isn’t the only alternative energy source receiving attention. My own Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington has been awarded $500,000 for a project that converts dairy cow manure into clean biomethane fuel for local buses, reports the Puget Sound Business Journal. And not far south, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory received $6.8 million to  study how tidal, wave and current energy from the region’s waterways might affect marine wildlife, writes Annette Cary of the Tri-City Herald.

The stream of funding for renewable energy takes place at a key time. Meandering through the Senate right now is an energy and climate bill that would require all utility companies to obtain 6 percent of their energy from renewable sources, such as wind and water. But while the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 passed through the House in May, some believe the current emphasis on health care has moved the bill to the Senate’s back burner.

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