Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Solar, Wind Power

Senator Udall Introduces Renewable Electricity Standard Bill

U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM has introduced legislation calling for a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), that would require utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2025. The bill, the first that Udall has introduced since being elected to the Senate, would require utilities to provide 6 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2012, and gradually increase that level to meet the 25 percent by 2025 goal.

The legislation is based on a bipartisan initiative introduced in the House of Representatives in 2002 by then Rep. Udall and cosponsored by then Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) The two eventually built a coalition in the House and won passage of an RES amendment in 2007. Tom and Mark Udall, who are first-cousins and freshmen Senators, are joining forces again in hopes of helping pass an RES into law.

“Americans want to put our nation on a path towards energy independence,” Tom Udall said. “By establishing an RES, we can begin creating new, clean energy jobs. In addition to these jobs, studies have shown that a federal RES would reduce energy bills, revitalize rural America, slow global warming and strengthen our energy security.” 

The Senators are joining the efforts made by New Mexico’s Senior Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources, and long-time champion of a federal RES.

“I am excited to be joining Chairman Bingaman’s effort to pass an aggressive, yet flexible and achievable, renewable electricity standard in the Senate,” said Tom Udall. “Make no mistake, I have no illusions that the road to enacting a proposal like this will be easy, and we have a lot of work ahead. Chairman Bingaman has led the fight on this issue in the Senate, and I want to do everything possible to help him secure its passage into law.” 

The legislation would create a federal standard requiring electric utilities to diversify their portfolios with wind, solar, biomass, hydrokinetic and other renewable energy sources. Studies have shown it would also:

  • Create jobs: A Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) study found that an RES would create hundreds of thousands of new American jobs 
  • Reduce energy bills: Energy research firm Wood Mackenzie found that an RES would lower natural gas and electricity prices and save more than $100 billion for American consumers
  • Revitalize rural America: Farmers and rural land owners in windy areas are reaping payments of $3,000-$8,000 per turbine per year, while still being able to work their land

Suppliers can meet the federal requirements by purchasing credits from other entities who have obtained credits by producing renewable energy. It also allows utilities to bank credits for four years and to borrow credits from up to three years in the future. Municipal and other publicly-owned power plants and rural electric co-ops would be exempted from the requirements.

Including New Mexico, 28 states already have renewable generation standards with various timelines and targets. This legislation does not pre-empt states that have stronger standards.