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.


  • […] House of Representatives Finds Compromise on Clean Energy Legislation. President Obama and Rep Henry Waxman (D-California) had originally supported and sponsored a much higher renewable energy standard for the US, proposing 25% of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2025. Southern Democrats concerned over their region’s inability to meet the criteria helped sway the House toward a much smaller commitment to clean power. The southern US lacks much of the wind and geothermal resources of western states and would instead need to substantially develop biomass and solar resources in order to cover the power generation mix. Sponsors and environmentalists were disappointed, citing the much higher per-state standards already in place. New York, for example, is well on its way to meeting its goal of 25% by 2013. (From our friends at Red, Green, and Blue). Questar Gas Company, Others Sue Interior Department For Revoking Oil & Gas Drilling Leases Near National Parks in Southern Utah. In a move that is largely viewed as one to force the hand of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, three oil & gas companies as well as three counties in Utah sued the Interior Department this week over the revocation of lease permits back in February. Salazar had said the Department would review the leases authorized by the Bush Administration to determine the impacts on air quality in the National Parks, and that if, upon further review, the play still stood, the leases would be renewed. The lawsuits seem to be an attempt to move the process forward as quickly as possible, and perhaps to circumvent some of the study and due process required. (From our friends at Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and hopes that someday, the green economy will simply be referred to as…the economy. Twitter Scott […]

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