US RPS Legislation Weakened in Committee

Markup on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 is set to begin today in Washington amid critiscism that the legislation and specifically the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) has been watered down in committee.

Representitives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) and the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee released the details at the end of last week of an agreement on combination energy efficiency standard and renewable electricity standard.

The agreement mandates that 20% of energy be produced by or saved by renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2020. Utilities would be required to obtain 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources and demonstrate annual electricity savings of 5% from energy efficiency measures.

However, if the governor of a state determines that utilities in the state cannot meet the 15% renewable requirement that governor can reduce the renewable requirement to 12% and increase the efficiency requirement to 8%, according to the House committee.

The bill’s RPS is less than one-half the level proposed by President Obama and Chairman Markey’s original proposal. In response to this weakening of the RPS measure, the American Wind Energy Association and a group of representatives from major wind industry companies released a letter to key members of Congress calling on them to strengthen the RPS.

“We are concerned that the significantly lower renewable targets currently being discussed, as compared to proposals from President Obama, Chairman Bingaman and Chairman Markey, will severely blunt the signal for companies like ours that manufacture turbines and components to invest billions of dollars to expand production and our workforces in the U.S.,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by representatives of GE Energy, Vestas Americas, Gamesa, NRG Systems, REPower USA, Broadwind Energy, TPI Composites, PPG Industries, Clipper Windpower and AWEA.

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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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