House Moves Closer to 15% Renewable Energy Standard

  • Published on May 14th, 2009

wind turbine, cfl, solar panels

Bill would require just 15% of electricity to come from renewable sources

House Democrats negotiating a climate and energy bill have reportedly reached a compromise on a renewable energy standard (RES) as part of the American Clean Energy & Security Act that would allow those states unable to meet the requirement to make up for it with gains in energy efficiency.

The agreement would break what has been a point of contention for House negotiators for weeks. Concerned that they would be unable to meet the target of 25 percent renewables by 2025 first proposed in the Waxman-Markey draft in March, Southern Democrats balked, arguing that they didn’t have access to strong solar or wind resources the other states do and that high cost would make such a target cost prohibitive.

The recent compromise — if agreed upon by House Leaders — would require utilities to get 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. Included in the compromise language are provisions for biomass and municipal solid waste as sources of renewable energy.

President Obama yesterday praised the progress House leaders were making on the climate and energy bill, telling reporters, “This is a major step forward in building the kind of clean energy economy that will reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.”

Renewable energy advocates say compromise doesn’t go far enough

According to American Wind Energy Association, seventy-five percent of voters favor an RES proposal requiring electric utility companies across the nation to generate at least twenty-five percent of their electricity through renewable energy sources by 2025.

Considering states like California, Colorado, New York, Vermont, Minnesota and others have already enacted much more aggressive renewable energy targets (New York, for example has an RES of 25% by 2013), renewable energy industry groups believe the 15% compromise wouldn’t do much to spur additional growth beyond what would already happen in the status quo.

“We are disappointed that the renewable energy target in the bill could be as low as 12 percent by 2020—less than one-half the level proposed by President Obama and Chairman Markey,” American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode said in a statement. “From an employment standpoint, by lowering the standard and limiting additional deployment, well over 100,000 jobs are being left on the cutting room floor,” added Bode.

A Union of Concerned Scientists study found that a 25% RES by 2025 would create nearly three hundred thousand jobs.

About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.