Bioenergy, Wind Power

U.S. Groups Call for Renewable Energy

More than 100 organizations in the United States are calling for federal legislation to increase the use of renewable energy.

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, US, 2001-10-17 [] The adoption of a federal renewable energy standard would help insulate the U.S. from energy price shocks by diversifying energy supply, according to the ‘Clean Energy Blueprint’ developed by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The report says America could achieve at least 20 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy sources by 2020 and save consumers money, when combined with policies to save energy. “This report shows that there are alternative solutions to the erratic prices and supply of commodities like natural gas,” says report author Alan Nogee. “Adopting a renewable energy standard would diversify electricity generation, as well as reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.” The report was released Monday as the U.S. Senate starts to debate energy legislation. It outlines a series of policies to increase U.S. use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, including a renewable portfolio standard that would require electric utilities to increase non-hydro renewable energy from the current level of 2 percent to 20 percent of overall electricity generation by 2020. Consumers would save US$440 billion from 2002 to 2020 if the recommendations were to become law, says Nogee. Energy-efficiency policies are a major component of the document, including new minimum efficiency standards on appliances and other equipment, tax incentives for advanced energy-saving products and matching funds for state-based energy-efficiency programs. “The UCS report provides the sort of well-reasoned and documented analysis of all energy options, not simply those favored by the existing fossil-fuel industry, that are needed to promote energy security and favorable economics through supply diversity,” says Daniel Kammen of the Renewable & Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. “A renewable energy portfolio standard provides the sort of sound — economically driven — basis for a diverse and clean energy economy that should be embraced by free-market economists and environmentalists alike.” Renewable energy standards have been adopted in Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. The UCS report recommends that the federal government set a national level. “Renewable portfolio standards have been a tremendous success in several states, including in President Bush’s home state of Texas,” explains Nogee. “If there truly is commitment to creating energy security in the U.S., enacting federal renewable standards will reduce the vulnerability of our energy system to disruption. It is the smart, affordable and effective option.” The recommended policies would also reduce U.S. use of natural gas by 31 percent and coal by 60 percent, and save more oil by 2020 than can be economically recovered from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 60 years, it says. They would avoid the need for 975 new power plants, retire 180 old coal plants, retire 14 existing nuclear reactors and reduce the need for thousands of miles of new gas pipelines and electricity transmission lines. “This study makes it clear that on both economic and environmental grounds, the renewable portfolio standard makes sense,” says Nogee. “In our post-September 11 world, we recognize that diversifying electricity supply, as a renewable energy standard would also help reduce the security risk to our electricity generation infrastructure.” The document was developed with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Tellus Institute.