Wednesday, September 22, 2010

21 Senators Including Some Republicans Sponsor National RES Bill

Sep 21: A release from a bipartisan groups of Senators led by Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) indicates that a strong renewable electricity standard (RES) is an essential component of any forward-looking energy policy. "Not just an important part of such a strategy, but an essential component." The Senators indicated that a national RES also "will increase our energy security, enhance the reliability of the electricity grid by creating more homegrown renewable energy and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions."
    In addition to Bingaman, some of the Senators making the announcement included Sam Brownback (R-KS), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Mark Udall (D-CO). Fifteen other Senators are listed as cosponsors of S.3813, which would amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to establish a Federal Renewable Electricity Standard or RES. The legislation would require sellers of electricity to retail customers to obtain certain percentages of their electric supply from renewable energy resources. The bill rapidly ramps up clean, domestic sources of electricity by requiring the gradual increase of the amount of renewable energy utilities produce.
    According to the release, sellers of electricity must obtain the following percentages of their electricity from renewable energy resources or from energy efficiency improvements by the years specified: 2012-2013 (3%); 2014-2016 (6%); 2017-2018 (9%); 2019-2020 (12%); and 2021-2039 (15%). Utilities selling less than 4 million megawatt hours per year would be exempt. Qualifying renewables (including distributed generators) are wind, solar, ocean, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, incremental hydropower, hydrokinetic, new hydropower at existing dams and waste-to-energy. The sponsors said The Federal RES will not affect state programs.
    Senator Bingaman (D-NM) said, "I think that the votes are present in the Senate to pass a renewable electricity standard. I think that they are present in the House.  I think that we need to get on with figuring out what we can pass and move forward." Senator Brownback (R-KS) said, "A sensible and modest renewable energy standard will help encourage home-grown supplies like wind in Kansas and help diversify our nation's energy sources."
    Ways of meeting the standard would include: Producing the specified amount of electricity or efficiency savings; Purchasing renewable energy or efficiency savings; Purchasing renewable energy credits or energy efficiency credits from entities who have excess; or Making alternative compliance payments to the Secretary at a rate of 2.1 cents per kilowatt hour. Payments would be made directly to states whose utilities have paid into the fund, for development of renewable resources, or to offset increases in customer's bills.
    Senator Bingaman indicated that with only a few date changes and a couple of scoring/technical fixes, the 43-page bill is almost identical to the RES included in the American Clean Energy Leadership Act, S.1462, that received bipartisan approval in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year by a vote of 15 to 8 [See WIMS 6/17/09].
    Access a release from the Senators (click here). Access legislative details for S.3813 (click here).