Several U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would create a national renewable electricity standard (RES).
Introduced by Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, the legislation would require utilities to generate 30% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.
The bill would create the first national threshold for utilities to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, including wind, solar, biomass and others. It would set an 8% requirement by 2016, followed by gradual and achievable increases in order to meet the 30% by 2030 target date.
According to a release from Udall's office, the legislation would not preempt stronger standards already implemented by states. To date, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have state standards.
‘A national RES will help slow utility rate increases and boost private investment in states like New Mexico – all while combating climate change,’ explains Udall, who helped pass RES legislation through the U.S. House of Representatives and has continued to champion the issue as senator. ‘Investing in homegrown clean energy jobs just makes sense, and that's why I'm continuing my fight for a national RES. More than half the states – including New Mexico – have widely successful RES policies, and it's time to go all in. I've long pushed for a 'do it all, do it right' energy policy, and a RES will help us get there.’
Udall is no stranger to a national RES. He introduced such legislation to establish a national RES each Congressional session since his election to the Senate in 2008. His proposal is based on a bipartisan initiative he introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 – which eventually passed the House in 2007.
An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that a ’30-by-30′ national RES would do the following:
- Increase renewable energy generation 265% over current levels by 2030, helping to support and build upon the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the wind, solar, geothermal and biopower industries;
- Save consumers $25.1 billion in cumulative electricity and natural gas bills from 2015 to 2030;
- Drive $294 billion in cumulative new capital investments from 2015 to 2030 – $106 billion more than business as usual;
- Spur nearly $4.3 billion in additional annual operation and maintenance payments in 2030; and
- Provide an additional $3.4 billion in new local tax revenues and wind power land lease payments to landowners through 2030, creating new economic activity in rural communities.