Climate Legislation Introduced in Washington, Includes RPS Provision

Chairman Henry Waxman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Chairman Edward Markey of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee and Select Committee on Global Warming have released a draft of clean energy legislation. Called the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), the legislation could serve as a new overall approach to America’s energy policy that, if passed will move the nation closer to having a clean energy economy.

“This legislation will create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path to energy independence, and cut global warming pollution.” Chairman Waxman said. “Our goal is to strengthen our economy by making America the world leader in new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.”

The legislation has four titles, clean energy, energy efficiency, reducing pollution and transitioning to a clean energy economy.

Renewable Energy: The draft promotes renewable energy by requiring retail electricity suppliers to meet a certain percentage of their load with electricity generated from renewable resources, like wind, biomass, solar, and geothermal. The renewable electricity requirement begins at 6% in 2012 and gradually rises to 25% in 2025. The governor of any state may choose to meet one fifth of this requirement with energy efficiency measures.

The draft also contains provisions to facilitate the deployment of a smart grid, including measures to reduce utility peak loads through smart grid and demand response applications and to help promote smart grid capabilities in new home appliances. It also directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reform the regional planning process to modernize the electric grid and provide for new transmission lines to carry electricity generated from renewable sources.

Energy Efficiency: This title provides incentives and creates program to increase energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation and industry.

Reducing Global Warming Pollution: The global warming provisions in the discussion draft are modeled closely on the recommendations of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of electric utilities, oil companies, chemical companies, automobile manufacturers, other manufacturers, energy companies and environmental organizations.

The draft establishes a market-based program for reducing global warming pollution from electric utilities, oil companies, large industrial sources, and other covered entities that collectively are responsible for 85% of U.S. global warming emissions. The draft also allows covered entities to increase their emissions above their allowances if they can obtain “offsetting” reductions at lower cost from other sources.

Transitioning to a Clean Energy Economy: One section authorizes the Secretary of Education to award grants to universities and colleges to develop curriculum and training programs that prepare students for careers in renewable energy, energy efficiency and other forms of climate change mitigation. The discussion draft also notes that a worker transition section remains to be provided.

The Energy and Commerce Committee will complete consideration of the legislation by Memorial Day. The preliminary schedule follows:

  • Week of April 20: Energy and Environment Subcommittee Hearings
  • Week of April 27: Energy and Environment Subcommittee Markup Period Begins
  • Week of May 11:  Full Energy and Commerce Committee Markup Period Begins

Click here to read the full draft of the legislation.

Click here to read the summary of the legislation. will continue to follow this legislation as it moves through Congress this year. Check back with us everyday.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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