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Published on September 23rd, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


Renewable Energy Standard Alive & Kicking in Congress

September 23rd, 2010 by  

When I wrote on the possibility of a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) coming back from the dead a couple weeks ago, based on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s statement that an RES was “absolutely” a possibility, I had hope, but not a lot of faith.

Not long before that, Reid had said that he doubted he could get the “necessary” 60 votes, and the Republican party has shot down clean energy legislation this year that it was once essentially the sole champion of. So, how much faith could I really have?

Nonetheless, it seems Reid may have been right (in his more recent comment) and we may get an RES (sort of). A bi-partisan group of senators has introduced a new RES bill.

New Renewable Energy Standard Bill Introduced, but…

The senators include: Bingaman (D-NM), Brownback (R-KS), Dorgan (D-ND), Collins (R-ME), Udall (D-NM), and Udall (D-CO).

And the requirements for energy companies would be: 3% of power from renewable energy by 2012, 6% by 2016, 9% by 2017, 12% by 2019, and 15% by 2021.

Why the “sort of” above?

Because the proposed RES targets are so low it is almost a joke to go through this procedure and say Congress is doing something.

As Tom Schueneman of ecopolitology writes, “the initial 2013 target for the bill is already exceeded by 30 percent, and the 2016 target of 6 percent is well within reach – as should be 2021 target of 15 percent.”

Nonetheless (shifting from a frown to a half-smile), this IS something. Maybe we just need to get the ball rolling in the Senate and it will finally start being proactive in order to create jobs, improve national security, cut our addiction to oil from unfriendly foreign countries, and address climate change (woops, bad word,… I’m not supposed to mention climate change these days, even though addressing climate change has wide support in the USA).

Struggles on the Senate Floor to Come

While an RES looks more promising, there is still plenty of work to do, as James Murray of Business Green reports:

In an indication of the horse trading that is to come, Louisianan Democrat senator Mary Landrieu signalled yesterday that she would not support the RES bill unless the current ban on offshore oil and gas drilling is lifted, while Republican senator Charles Grassley said he would only support the bill if Democrats allow amendments to be added.

Those Republicans who could support the bill are set to push for other sources of low-carbon energy, such as nuclear and “clean coal”, to be allowed to count towards the target as a condition of their support – a move likely to be opposed by Democrats.

Hopefully, the next time I write on an RES, we will have more good news, not another “things have changed” post.

Photo Credit: David Reeves via flickr 
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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the CEO of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he offers no investment advice and does not recommend investing in Tesla or any other company.

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