Bingaman, Udall Introduce Renewable Electricity Standard Bill

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Two senators from New Mexico have introduced a bipartisan bill to create a national renewable electricity standard (RES).

The legislation proposed by Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., would create a 15% RES. Utilities would have to produce at least 11% of their power from wind, solar, biomass or other renewable energy sources. The remaining 4% would be achieved through energy efficiency improvements.

‘Shifting our country toward home-grown renewable energy will create jobs and help reduce carbon pollution,’ Bingaman, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. ‘I believe there is strong support for this bipartisan bill, and I hope we can pass it through Congress in the coming weeks.’

RES targets would be 3% in 2012 to 2013, 6% in 2014 to 2016, 9% in 2017 to 2018, 12% in 2019 to 2020 and 15% in 2021 to 2039. States that have a higher renewable portfolio standard (RPS) would not be affected by the bill. However, states that have a lower RPS or none at all would have to comply with the 15% RES. Utilities selling less than 4 million MWh per year are exempt.

Andris Cukurs, CEO of Suzlon Wind Energy Corp. stated that a national RES can lead to more jobs in the U.S.

‘Swift passage of a bill is essential to the continued growth of the U.S. wind energy industry,’ he noted in a statement. ‘Quite simply, the U.S. cannot afford to wait any longer. If passed, this bi-partisan legislation will help diversify our energy portfolio, improving our energy security and creating green jobs. A national RES is essential to foster stable, long-term investment in wind energy in this country.’

The senators are working to secure 60 cosponsors so that the bill can be brought up for consideration before Congress adjourns later this year. Cosponsors include Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.; Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.; John Ensign, R-Nev.; Mark Udall, D-Colo.; and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) also praised the efforts to introduce an RES in a statement.

‘The RES is the single most important thing we can do to grow jobs here in the United States and keep 85,000 American wind energy workers on the job,’ according to Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. This bill sends a signal to manufacturers that the time is right to invest in and grow their operations here in America.’

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