U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced legislation that would enact a federal Renewable Energy Standard (RES) which would require utilities to generate 25% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025.
The bill phases the requirement in. Utilities would have to get just 6% by 2013, followed by gradual increases.
"Americans want to put our nation on a path towards energy independence, and this bill is our best chance to get America running on homegrown energy while creating good jobs for hardworking Americans," says Tom Udall. "Studies show that a federal RES would reduce energy bills, revitalize rural America, slow global warming and strengthen our energy security. With American innovation and ingenuity, we can put our people to work in a thriving, clean energy economy."
"I was proud to lead the effort in Colorado to pass one of the country’s first Renewable Electricity Standards – and it has helped the state create over 30,000 new good-paying jobs and spurred the growth of one of the strongest renewable energy sectors in the country," said Mark Udall. "We can do the same thing across the country with a robust national RES. A national RES would unleash innovation, helping America compete for renewable energy jobs and lead in the global economic race."
Studies have shown it would:
- Create jobs: Wind and solar energy are likely to be among the largest sources of new manufacturing jobs worldwide during the 21st Century. A Navigant Consulting study found that an RES would create over 225,000 American jobs;
- Reduce energy bills: Energy research firm Wood Mackenzie found that an RES would lower natural gas and electricity prices and save more than $100 billion for Americans;
- Revitalize rural America: Farmers and rural land owners in windy areas are reaping payments of $3,000 and up per turbine per year, while still being able to work their land. The "wind harvest" can carry hard-pressed farmers through difficult times, such as droughts, even if crops fail;
- Slow global warming: By displacing the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity, an RES can cut emissions of conventional pollutants and greenhouse gases.
Suppliers can meet the federal requirements by purchasing credits from other entities that have obtained credits by producing renewable energy. It also allows utilities to bank credits for four years and to borrow credits from up to three years in the future. Municipal and other publicly-owned power plants and rural electric co-ops would be exempted from the requirements.
In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Obama called for an 80% Clean Energy Standard (CES) by 2035, which would include renewables, nuclear, and natural gas.
If renewables were included with nuclear and natural gas, they would lost in the mix. It’s become clear that nuclear isn’t safe or cost-effective the way renewables are. The environmental and health effects of natural gas fracking make it unfit for a Clean Energy Standard.
Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Energy Committee respectively, recently released a White Paper on a CES and are soliciting responses on how to design such a program.
29 states and the District of Columbia, representing over half of the U.S. electricity market, already have Renewable Energy Standards with various timelines and targets. This legislation does not pre-empt states that have stronger standards.