Senator Clinton Endorses 'Smart' Energy

Billions of dollars at stake across the world for the winner of renewable energy 'race.'

Published: 05-Feb-2004

ESTER, N.Y. -- New York is well-positioned to be one of the nation's renewable energy capitals, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said at a forum aimed at boosting investment in technologies that harness power from wind turbines, solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells.

"We need to stop calling this alternative energy," the former first lady said Monday. "It implies that it's just an alternative. But in fact it's an imperative. It's cleaner, it's better, it's smarter. We should call it smart energy."

New York state has many of the key components _ wealthy investors, cutting-edge research, a skilled labor force, a surfeit of academic programs _ to begin to capitalize on the economic benefits of renewable energy sources, the senator said.

With California poised to announce a huge public investment in generating electricity from renewable sources _ a move likely to lure in massive private investment _ it "may very well be the smart energy capital on the West Coast," Clinton said.

"We want New York to be the smart energy capital on the East Coast, and we have all the ingredients," she said.

During a daylong conference that brought together investors, inventors, business owners and government officials, the Democratic senator assailed the Bush administration for its "haphazard effort" in marshaling investment to develop "the energy policy our nation needs."

Echoing her complaints, state Comptroller Alan Hevesi maintained that President Bush's team "doesn't understand what long-term means."

"If you don't prepare for the long-term now, you're the loser in the long-term," he said.

Clinton called for public investment in renewable energy on the scale of the Apollo space program in the 1960s.

"Look at the benefits that we have derived from significant federal investments in the space program, in health care research and development, in the Internet _ which, remember, was a government invention that then went to commercial application," she said.

While the political steam in Congress to enact a new national energy agenda has cooled, Japan and Europe "have made big commitments to advancing these technologies with significant public investment," she added. "We have to do the same."

Dan Reicher of New Energy Capital, an investment firm, said that Europe leads the United States in creating electricity from wind power, Japan has jumped ahead in energy production from solar power "and we run great risk of losing the race on the emerging fuel-cell market."

"This is a big race, there are many, many billions of dollars at stake across the world for the winner of this race," he said.

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