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Press Release - Smith's Alternative Energy Bills Approved by the House

Location: Washington D.C.

Smith's Alternative Energy Bills Approved by the House

Washington D.C. - The House of Representatives today approved the "Alternative Energy Research and Development Act" (H.R. 6203). The bipartisan bill contained solar energy and plug-in hybrid vehicle initiatives Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) introduced in June.

"Americans are concerned about high gas prices, our dependence on foreign oil and global warming," said Smith. "This bill addresses those concerns and improves our energy security, national security and environmental security."

The "Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle Act" contained in the legislation establishes a partnership between private and public entities to focus on electric drive technology. It requires the Secretary of Energy to carry out a program of research and development for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and electric drive transportation technology. The goal is to develop a plug-in hybrid car that can travel up to 40 miles on battery power alone.

The bill also establishes a pilot program of grants to local governments and metropolitan transportation authorities. These grants support local projects that demonstrate the need for, and practicality of, plug-in hybrid electric technology.

The "SUN Act of 2006," which is also contained in the bill, aims to make electricity from solar power cost-competitive by 2015. A recent Energy Foundation study suggests that the U.S. could produce 2,900 new megawatts of solar power by 2010 -- enough to power 500,000 homes -- if the cost is significantly reduced.

The "SUN Act" encourages state governments and private industry to team up to apply for federal grants for solar panel technology to be installed, for example, in public buildings or housing developments. The more this type of technology is used, the cheaper it will become. Other nations that have promoted solar energy found that efficiency of production and installation increased as the technology became more commonplace.

"The answer to many of our energy needs comes up every morning," explained Smith. "Solar power is clean, plentiful and generates zero emissions and zero waste."

Smith concluded, "Congress has a responsibility to help promote alternative energy technology."

The bills were included in a comprehensive package of energy-related legislation. The package contains other innovative energy provisions, such as programs to promote the use of bio-fuel and programs to promote construction of energy efficient buildings.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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