RPS Hangs in the Senate Balance

The U.S. Senate soon will consider an amendment to the Energy Bill, which would require 10 percent of the energy generated in the United States to come from renewable sources like wind, solar and bio-mass, and Sen. Peter Fitzgerald’s (R- Ill.) vote is crucial, said the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC).

Chicago, Illinois – May 14, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The vote on the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) is expected to be extremely close, with just a handful of senators determining the fate of the bill. Last year, a similar measure received 58 votes, including Senator Fitzgerald’s, but because of election results and White House opposition, the vote is considered too close to call this year. “Senator Fitzgerald’s vote is critical to the future of Renewable Energy in America over the next decade,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the ELPC. “He is one of two or three swing votes determining whether our nation will seize the economic and environmental benefits of Renewable Energy, or whether we will continue to rely on highly polluting coal and nuclear plants to meet our energy needs.” Last session, the Senate passed an energy bill that included an RES, requiring utilities to increase electricity generation from clean renewable resources such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy. Although this provision died along with the broader energy bill, the momentum from last session has made the RES a prominent issue in the current session’s energy debate. Sen. Fitzgerald voted for the RES last year, but has been noncommittal with this year’s debate, said the ELPC. According to Job Jolt – the Economic Impacts of Repowering the Midwest, a recent report by ELPC, Illinois could gain 57,000 net new jobs by 2020 under a clean energy scenario using more Renewable Energy and energy efficiency. The state would also gain an additional US$6 billion in increased annual economic output by 2020. Wind energy projects, for instance, produce manufacturing jobs in urban areas, construction and maintenance jobs in rural areas, and are often among the largest property tax payers in rural counties. Wind Energy is a great new cash crop for farmers. “The facts of the proposed Renewable Energy standard are simple,” Learner said. “A 10 percent RES would diversify our energy supply and increase our energy security, while simultaneously protecting consumers from volatile fossil fuel prices. Furthermore, the RES would stimulate domestic investment in new Renewable Energy, creating jobs and providing income to both rural and urban areas.”

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