A new analysis released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has found that, contrary to popular belief, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, introduced in March by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., would not raise electricity rates, at least in the first 10 years following its enactment.
Under Bingaman's proposal, beginning in 2015, large retail utilities – excluding those in Alaska and Hawaii – would be required to obtain 24% of the electricity they sell through clean energy sources, with the mandate increasing by 3% each year through 2035.
The bill does not limit the mandate to renewables like wind and solar, but also includes several other low-emissions and clean energy resources such as renewable biomass, natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power or qualified waste-to-energy, as well as "clean" coal with carbon-capture technology.
According to the EIA report, because the proposal includes a variety of energy sources – including natural gas and nuclear power, and not just renewable energy – it would lead to an increase in all of these sources of generation.
Wind power would benefit substantially – in fact, along with biomass, the most of any other resource – from Bingaman's proposal, according to the analysis. The EIA predicts that under a clean energy standard (CES), U.S. installed wind energy capacity would more than double from 39 GW in 2010 (48.6 GW currently) to 92 GW in 2035.
In terms of generation, U.S. wind energy production would increase from 95 TWh in 2010 to 268 TWh by 2035 under the CES.
The EIA also forecasts that the legislation would lead to improved industrial efficiency and reduce the power sector's greenhouse-gas emissions by 20% in 2025 and by 45% in 2035.
The full EIA report is available here.