25% Renewable Energy Standard Introduced into Senate
Two freshmen U.S. senators—who also happen to be cousins—have introduced a bill that would create a national renewable energy standard (RES) of twenty-five percent by 2020.
The bill would initiate a federal minimum standard mandating retail energy suppliers to diversify their portfolios with the first requirement of six percent for 2012, and consistently increase thereafter until meeting the 2025 goal. The proposal dovetails with that of President Obama who has proposed a goal of doubling renewable energy within the next three years.
Twenty-eight states already have renewable generation standards with various timelines and targets and this legislation would not preempt states that have stronger standards.
On paper, the proposed RES would appear to surpass the EU enewables requirement of twenty percent by 2020. But municipal and other publicly-owned power plants and rural electric co-ops would be exempted from the requirements.
“This legislation is a long-overdue step toward energy security our country needs,” the bill’s co-sponsor Mark Udall (D-CO)said. “The renewable energy goals this bill sets are significant. Our RES bill will create jobs, benefit farmers, save consumers money, reduce air pollution, and increase reliability and energy security.”
Qualifying renewables are wind, solar, ocean, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas and incremental hydropower. Existing hydropower generators and municipal solid waste generators are excluded from the base amount from which the percentage requirements are calculated. Excluding large hydro and waste to energy, renewables already account for almost 3% of U.S. electricity production.
Energy research firm Wood Mackenzie found that a national RES would lower natural gas and electricity prices and save more than $100 billion for American consumers.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about the proposed national RES. David Wright, commissioner of the South Carolina Public Service Commission, said a federal renewable energy standard fails to recognize the significant differences among the states in terms of available and cost-effective renewable energy resources, and that having such a standard in energy legislation will ultimately increase consumers’ electricity bills.”
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