Ag Subcommittee Reviews Renewable Energy Finance Structure

Mar 7, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research held a hearing to examine the financing structure of renewable energy sources. Congressman Tim Holden of Pennsylvania is Chairman of the Subcommittee.

"While farm based energy production has grown in recent years, I think we can and should do more to increase our use of renewable energy including biofuels," Chairman Holden said. "Today, we heard from the Administration and a wide variety of stakeholders to determine what approach we should take in preparation of the farm bill."

"After years of skepticism, the business sector is giving the ethanol industry a second look," added Ranking Member Frank Lucas of Oklahoma. "Higher petroleum prices and technology advances have made renewable fuels a more viable business model. But now the question is how we help these fuels in their move from a potential fuel alternative to a successful business plan."

The subcommittee heard testimony from nine witnesses.  The first panel included U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas C. Dorr, Assistant Energy Secretary Alexander Karsner, and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty.  The officials answered questions about the status of federal and state programs aimed at spurring investment in domestically-produced renewable energy.

The second panel was comprised of six witnesses representing small banks, the farm credit system, venture capitalists, investors and project developers from across America who shared their perspective on the current federal finance structure for alternative energy projects and how that structure affects private investment.

The Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research Subcommittee will be one of six House Agriculture subcommittees involved in reauthorization of farm programs in the Farm Bill, including the billÆs energy title. The 2002 Farm Bill was the first farm legislation to contain an energy title and many of the billÆs provisions will expire in September of 2007.

The opening statements of all nine witnesses are available on the Committee website, and a full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee website in 4-6 weeks.