National renewable energy standard gets a second life

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is slated to unveil a bill for a national renewable energy standard in Washington tomorrow afternoon.
Written by David Worthington, Contributor

A bipartisan group of senators has resurrected the notion of a renewable energy standard becoming law in the United States with the planned unveiling of a bill tomorrow, according to wire reports.

If the bill becomes law, state utilities would be required generate a target minimum of 15 percent of their total energy output from renewable sources by 2021. The exact energy mix is conditional (for now): Hydrogen is in, but nuclear power is out.

States will be given an allowance for up to 25 percent of the goal by furthering energy conservation, Reuters reports. The mandate would go into effect in 2012, but first most pass muster in the Senate amid a turbulent political climate.

The legislation is being brought to the floor as a standalone item by energy committee chair Democrat Jeff Bingaman, and Sam Brownback, a Republican. Earlier efforts to adopt the measure as an element of a comprehensive climate change bill stalled without debate.

Other Senators who are supporting the bill include Democrats Byron Dorgan and Tom Udall, and Republican Susan Collins, Bingaman's office told Reuters. Should the bill pass, the U.S. would be following the direction of China and Europe.

In 2007, China announced its “National Action Plan” plan for climate change, which includes targets for increasing it’s the proportion of electricity the country generates from renewable energy. A 2008 European Union directive called for each member state to increase its share of renewable energy.

Proponents of the standard, including a consortium of companies that produce wind turbines, have sought the mandate as a way to reduce reliance on hydrocarbons and kick start the adoption of clean energy technologies that may be developed and produced domestically.

Detractors have argued that a mandate would pass costs onto consumers and that some regions would be at a disadvantage to meet the federally imposed target.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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