Tuesday, April 16, 2013

GAO Report Released: Energy: Federal Support for Renewable and Advanced Energy Technologies

Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, titled Energy: Federal Support for Renewable and Advanced Energy Technologies GAO-13-514T (Apr. 16, 2013). The details of the 15-page report, available here, are discussed below:

Why GAO Did This Study

This testimony discusses federal support for renewable and advanced energy technologies. Americans' daily lives, as well as the economic productivity of the United States, depend on the availability of energy, the majority of which comes from fossil fuels. However, faced with concerns over the nation's reliance on imported oil, volatile energy costs, and greenhouse gas emissions, federal policymakers have increased support for deployment of renewable and advanced energy technologies to help meet our nation's energy needs. Federal agencies including the Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Energy (DOE), and the Treasury, among others, provide support for these technologies through tax expenditures, grants, loans, and loan guarantees. This support helps finance production of electricity from wind and solar farms, manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicles, and construction of advanced nuclear power plants, among other things. Energy produced from nonfossil fuel sources has increased over the last several decades, growing to about 22 percent of total U.S. energy production in 2012, according to projections by DOE's Energy Information Administration, an independent statistical and analytical agency. At the same time, the increase in federal support for renewable and advanced energy technologies and the involvement of multiple agencies in supporting such technologies have raised questions about the effectiveness of this support. In the current fiscally constrained environment, it is especially important to allocate scarce government resources where they can be most effective. GAO has issued a number of reports related to federal support of renewable and advanced energy technologies including, most recently, the following two reports:

(1) a broad review of federal initiatives that promote wind energy, including the extent to which initiatives may provide duplicative support and the extent to which agencies assess applicant need for the initiatives' support, and

(2) a review of the status of DOE's efforts to use its loan and loan guarantee authorities and remaining credit subsidy appropriations to support projects under its Title XVII Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program (LGP), which guarantees loans for projects that, among other things, use new or significantly improved technologies, and Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program, which provides loans for projects to produce more fuel-efficient passenger vehicles and their components.

This statement presents highlights from these two reports.

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