America could reap US$80 billion in new, local investment by adopting a national Renewable Energy standard of 20 percent of electricity supply generation by 2020 (called a renewable portfolio standard — RPS), according to an analysis released by the Union of Concerned Scientists last month. This new capital investment would bring income and jobs to the country’s rural economies.CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts 2002-03-07 [SolarAccess.com] Today, the United States relies heavily on coal, nuclear power and natural gas to generate its electricity. Renewable Energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and bioenergy currently provide a negligible amount of the nation’s electricity. “America has abundant renewable energy resources that are cleaner, safer and more secure than fossil fuels or nuclear power,” said Deborah Donovan, UCS senior analyst. “Diversifying our electricity supplies with renewable energy will help states across the country create homegrown energy that will boost local economic development.” UCS’ analysis also found that America’s consumers would save a total of US$4.5 billion on their energy bills from 2002 to 2020 from a 20 percent Renewable Energy standard. In a letter to Senators, two leading consumer advocate groups, Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America, asked them to consider a 20 percent Renewable Energy standard as an integral part of any energy legislation. Among the economic benefits of a 20% standard for the U.S. economy are: nearly US$80 billion in new capital investment; nearly US$5 billion in new property tax revenues for local communities; US$1.2 billion in lease payments to farmers, ranchers and rural landowners from wind power; more than double our use of homegrown bioenergy fuels, providing billions in income for farmers. Legislation to establish a 20 percent Renewable Energy standard is under consideration in the U.S. Senate as part of S. 1333, introduced by Senator James Jeffords (I-VT). While Senator Daschle (D-SD) and Senator Bingaman (D-NM) have proposed a bill that includes a 10 percent standard, the new economic development would be cut almost in half.