2012 was a year of accomplishments and challenges for renewable energy in America. It was also a year in which the 25x’25 Alliance, thanks to the tireless efforts of its nearly 1,000 endorsing partners, continued to defend and advocate for the fact that America’s working lands can meet 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2025.
Over the course of the past year the Alliance and its valued partners undertook a number of projects and missions designed to impact and underscore the value of sustainable and renewable energy solutions from the land.
At the state level, renewable energy stakeholder coalitions worked to develop plans that will lead to the adoption of state enabling policies to further drive renewable energy development. Among the many state-level projects undertaken by 25x’25 champions this year was the cooperative effort with Arkansas bioenergy and energy efficiency stakeholders to formulate legislative recommendations and the formation of a Biomass/Bioenergy Committee in Missouri to collect input for recommendations to the governor. The Alliance partnered with the Clean Fuels Development Coalition and the Florida BioEnergy Association to conduct a Flex Fuel Vehicle Awareness Campaign at the Florida Energy Summit, while the Kansas 25x’25 State Alliance and 25x’25 teamed up to promote renewable energy projects in Kansas awarded funding under the federal Rural Energy for America Program and the contributions of these projects to the state’s economy.
Recently, 40 leaders from eleven states and the District of Columbia gathered in West Memphis, AR, for the Second Annual Southern Bioenergy Networks meeting hosted by the Southeastern Agricultural and Forestry Energy Resources Alliance and 25x’25. Discussions there centered on key issues such as federal policy, trends impacting the bioenergy sector, bioenergy industry outlook, innovation driven by research and development, and opportunities related to bioenergy and the region’s military.
The 2012 elections drew Alliance efforts aimed at distinguishing the candidates’ stand on renewables, including the distribution of a set of energy questions that members could ask candidates for public office. Thanks to their work at the precinct level, the highly orchestrated and well-funded attacks on clean energy did not succeed and voters overwhelmingly reaffirmed their support for a new energy future defined by a much greater reliance on renewable energy.
At the national level 25x’25 partners worked in support of extending soon-to-expire production tax credits critical to renewable energy development, and advocated for the passage of a new Farm Bill, a policy tool that would reauthorize a wide variety of farm energy and elevate the Secretary of Agriculture’s role in national energy policy decisions.
The Alliance devoted considerable effort in 2012 to maintaining demand for biofuels. Examples include 25x’25’s leadership in defending the Renewable Fuels Standard and forming a broad coalition of value chain partners to maintain meaningful policy incentives that promote the manufacturing of flex-fuel vehicles and help boost the national biofuels market. Efforts continue to address these concerns and the coalition building has brought together highly invested stakeholders who will continue to work together to maintain strong demand for biofuels going forward.
The Alliance this year joined with the Biomass Power Association, Advanced Biofuels Association and Southeast Agriculture and Forestry Energy Resources Alliance in hosting the first Bioenergy Day on Capitol Hill. More than two dozen sponsors and supporting organizations presented a united front in support of biofuel and biopower solution sets, drawing a diverse collection of Capitol Hill staffers and bioenergy advocates from around the nation.
A diverse team of agriculture, forestry, business, academic and conservation leaders were gathered this year to serve on its Adaptation Initiative. In February, the Initiative released a report entitled “Agriculture and Forestry in a Changing Climate: The Road Ahead,” which presents a summary of some of the current and anticipated shifts in climate and weather patterns that agriculture and forestry will need to address in order to maintain and enhance future productivity. The Initiative’s recommendations for adaptation measures are set for release in January.
The Alliance launched an Energy for Economic Growth Initiative that is exploring the utilization of incentive-based rate structures by rural electric utilities to expand the production of renewable energy. As part of this project, a diverse team of 25x’25 leaders undertook a renewable energy study tour of Germany in September that resulted in the publication of a report that spotlights a wide range of policy innovations that has grown renewable energy’s share of German energy consumption from 6 percent in 2000 to 25 percent today.
While 2012 was a challenging year on the policy front for renewable energy stakeholders, the 25x’25 Alliance remains grateful to its partners for tireless efforts on behalf of a sector that continues to grow. The Alliance will remain committed in 2013 and the years ahead to a vision in which the nation’s agricultural and forestry sectors meet a critical and significant portion of the nation’s growing energy demand. The Alliance and its many partners understand that moving to 25x’25 is a marathon, not a sprint.