Action Alert: Senate Vote on Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)

National Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) legislation could come to the floor of the Senate as soon as the end of May. The legislation would require utilities to generate or purchase 15% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

The policy ensures that a minimum amount of renewable energy is included in the portfolio of electricity resources serving a state or country, and — by increasing the required amount over time — the RPS can put the electricity industry on a path toward increasing sustainability.

Please contact your Senators and ask them to support the Bingaman/Reid RPS amendment when the energy bill comes to the Senate floor and to oppose amendments that would weaken the program’s requirements for renewable energy. See the link below.

The amendment will be attached to a bill expected to be debated in the Senate this week, which would increase energy efficiency of vehicles and broaden access to biofuels. Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, the chairman of the Senate energy panel and major co-sponsor of the bill is introducing the amendment.

Under the bill, new cars and trucks would have to get 35 miles per gallon by 2020, after which fuel standards would increase 4% a year.

It authorizes the DOE to make loan guarantees for fuel-efficient vehicle manufacturers and related parts suppliers and would increase the amount of ethanol and other renewable fuels to 8.5 billion gallons in 2008, then 36 billion gallons by 2022.

It would also give the federal government more authority to go after oil companies that manipulate gasoline supplies and overcharge consumers at the pump.

Lawmakers from major automobile-producing states are expected to attempt to weaken the fuel requirements during the debate.

It would also:

* Require the federal government to increase purchases of renewable energy to 10 percent of total supply by 2010 and 15 percent by 2015;

* Reduce energy consumption in existing federal buildings by 30 percent by 2015;

* Create appliance energy efficiency standards for dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators and dehumidifiers;

* Provide more government money to help weatherize low-income family homes.

In other news, The House Appropriations Committee has boosted Fiscal Year 2008 funding for key energy-efficiency programs, reversing years of declining funding.

” Commercial Buildings Initiative: ­ The committee approved $15 million for development of a new long-term zero-energy commercial buildings initiative intended to eliminate energy use in this sector over the coming years.

” ENERGY STAR (EPA portion) ­ The committee has funded ENERGY STAR at $52 million ­- nearly $6 million above the current level.

” Appliance Standards: ­ The committee approved $23.6 million, more than double recent funding levels, to address the significant backlog that exists.

” Building codes: ­The committee added $10 million above the administration’s $3.8 million request to help states comply with building codes and to help train builders and inspectors in this area.

” Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP): ­ The committee has provided $27 million for FEMP, an $8 million increase and the largest funding increase for this program in years.

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