America has the potential to generate four times its current electricity generation from renewables, not counting its considerable solar resources, according to a new report released by U.S. PIRG.Washington, D.C. April 21, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The report, “Generating Solutions: How Clean, Renewable Energy is Boosting Local Economies and Saving Consumers Money” shows that a national standard increasing the use of Renewable Energy to 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply by 2020 would benefit the economy by creating three to five times as many jobs as a similar investment in fossil fuels, consumers by saving US$4.5 billion by 2020, and the environment by reducing global warming emissions from power plants by 19 percent in 2020. “The good news is that Renewable Energy is coming online across the country. The bad news is that more than 90 percent of our electricity still comes from fossil fuels and nuclear power,” said U.S. PIRG Clean Energy Advocate Katherine Morrison. Pointing to recent price spikes in the natural gas market, U.S. PIRG urged Congress and the Bush administration to take steps to protect consumers from future price fluctuations and noted that increasing the percentage of electricity generated by Renewable Energy could save consumers money in the long run by reducing the demand for natural gas. “By diversifying the electricity mix to include Renewable Energy, consumers would have alternative choices when prices rise rather than being held captive to the volatility of the fossil fuel market,” said Morrison. The PIRG report cited examples of ways the U.S. currently uses Renewable Energy in 35 states, including Nevada’s recent boom in Renewable Energy development after passing a Renewable Energy standard. In November 2002, Nevada Power Company signed six contracts that will add approximately 200 MW of renewable generating capacity to the utility’s power supply. More than half of the new generating capacity will come from wind power, with the remainder coming from geothermal power. “Last week, 247 members of the House of Representatives voted for an energy bill that is bad for the environment and bad for consumers,” said Morrison. “The Senate is expected to vote on its energy bill in May, but neither piece of legislation currently includes a national Renewable Energy standard that would boost production of electricity from clean renewable resources.