National Clean Energy Summit Generates Fresh Ideas

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 5:18 PM CDT
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National Clean Energy Summit Generates Fresh Ideas

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LAS VEGAS, Nevada, August 20, 2008 (ENS) - Windfarms offshore of New York City, wind turbines on top of the city's bridges and skyscrapers, and the generation of tidal power, solar power and geothermal energy are all in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's vision of New York's energy future.

Speaking at the first annual National Clean Energy Summit hosted by U.S. Senator Harry Reid, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the mayor Tuesday announced New York's first steps toward developing these new sources of renewable energy.

First, the New York City Economic Development Corporation Tuesday released a Request for Expressions of Interest calling for innovative ideas to help the city develop sources of renewable energy. Responses to the RFEI are due September 19.

"Such projects might, for example, be designed to draw power from the tides of the Hudson and East Rivers - something we're already doing on a pilot basis, Mayor Bloomberg told summit participants.

"They might call for dramatically increasing rooftop solar power production, which we've estimated could meet nearly 20 percent of the city's need for electricity."

"They could tap into geothermal energy. In fact, some private home and building owners have already drilled their own heat wells," Bloomberg said.

"Or perhaps companies will want to put windfarms atop our bridges and skyscrapers, or use the enormous potential of powerful off-shore winds miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, where turbines could generate roughly twice the energy that land-based windfarms can," the mayor said. "Windfarms located far off our shores, some evidence shows, could meet 10 percent of our city's electricity needs within a decade."

"More than 100 years ago, a new statue standing tall in New York Harbor gave our nation its greatest symbol of freedom. In this century, that freedom is being undermined by dependence on foreign oil. So I think it would be a thing of beauty if, when Lady Liberty looks out on the horizon, she not only welcomes new immigrants, but lights their way with a torch powered by an ocean windfarm," said the mayor.

"Right now, I can't tell you exactly what any such projects might look like. But I can tell you this: In New York, we don't think of alternative power as something that we just import from other parts of the nation. America's energy efficiency and energy security are our business, too. So when it comes to producing clean power, we're determined to make New York the number one city in the nation.

Keynote speaker oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens advanced his plan to develop America's wind energy potential and use the natural gas supplies this frees up to power American cars and trucks.

Pickens has made his fortune in the oilfields but has now become a convert to renewables. He says all Americans can participate in generating clean energy no matter where they live.

Pickens told reporters how he replied to a person from Maine who felt it to be unfair that renewable energy development is taking place in the sunny Southwest.

"I said, we feel disadvantaged because we don't have the waves that you have in Maine to create energy; we feel disadvantaged because we don't have the wind that you have off the coast of Maine," Pickens answered. "Renewable energy is not in special locality in the United States. Every place in America can do well with renewables. There are farmers in the Midwest who are making more money as we speak generating electricity with their windmills than they are growing soybeans and other crops."

In his keynote speech, former President Bill Clinton advanced a new idea - the creation of energy independent areas that would rely on renewables, efficiency, and home grown energy.

"Energy is at the heart of the three greatest challenges the U.S. faces today," he said, urging participants to do more to encourage renewable energy markets and create green collar jobs that will boost the country's economy while fighting the threat of global climate change.

The energy independent areas would prove to the rest of the world that energy independence built on clean energy is possible and would lead to economic growth, said the former president.

Clinton suggested that energy independent areas would work well in many places - Caribbean nations, Liberia and Rwanda, East Timor and Papua New Guinea, Puerto Rico, which currently imports 100 percent of its energy, Native American reservations without gaming income, the Mississippi River Delta and Appalachia, and the state of Nevada.

By suggesting Nevada, Clinton hit on one of the main reasons that Nevada Senator Reid, a Nevada Democrat who serves as Senate majority leader, decided to host the National Clean Energy Summit - to open up more opportunities for Nevada.

Reid told summit participants, “The sun shines here all the time. The wind blows much of the time, and we're one of the few states that has massive amounts of geothermal energy. That's why I refer to Nevada as the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy. Tax incentives and upgraded transmission capacity could make the goals set forth for Nevada a reality."

Clinton said Nevada could create a public-private partnership for renewables and export renewables to the rest of the country, a suggestion that Reid is considering.

Reid emphasized that offshore drilling would not solve anything. "Everyone knows that drilling is not going to solve our energy problems. T. Boone Pickens has said that, everybody says that. John McCain has said it's psychological, the drilling is not acutally going to help."

"So we're going to try to move off that and give people a vote on it, then I hope we can move on to something else," said the Senate majority leader.

The summit drafted a set of findings and recommendations that Reid said he would share with the two upcoming national political conventions and also take to the Senate.

To view the 2008 National Clean Energy Summit Findings and Recommendations, click here.

{Photo: Senator Harry Reid of Nevada (left) and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the National Clean Energy Summit. August 19, 2008 courtesy Office of Mayor Bloomberg}

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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