Local Viewpoints
9:57 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Udall Fights For National Renewable Electricity Standard

Credit Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

  Continuing their push for legislation to set a threshold for renewable electricity production, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mark Udall (D-CO) today introduced a bill to establish a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) that would create jobs, reduce pollution and save consumers money.

By requiring utilities to generate 25 percent of their power from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2025, the bill would encourage the growth of U.S. renewable energy that reduces our dependence on foreign fossil fuels, helps hold down utility rates and boosts private investments in state economies.

Tom and Mark Udall, who are first cousins, first introduced a similar initiative in 2002 while members of the U.S. House of Representatives. They eventually built a coalition in the House and won passage of an RES amendment in 2007. Since being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, they have continued the fight in hopes of finally passing a national RES into law.

"The global clean energy race is increasingly competitive, and our bill is the best way to help America take the lead and build a thriving clean energy economy,” Tom Udall said. “A national RES will get America running on homegrown clean energy, create almost 300,000 new jobs and help revitalize our rural communities – all while fighting global warming. I’ve long fought for a ‘do it all, do it right’ energy strategy, and a national RES is a critical part of maximizing our country’s energy potential.”

"Clean energy creates jobs, spurs innovation, reduces global warming and makes us more energy independent. This common-sense proposal would extend Colorado's successful effort to expand the use of renewable energy alongside natural gas and coal to the entire nation," Mark Udall said. "I was honored to lead the effort to institute a renewable energy standard in Colorado and am proud to join with Sen. Tom Udall to bring this policy to the nation."

The senators’ legislation would create the first national threshold for utilities to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, including wind, solar, biomass and hydrokinetic energy. The bill would set a 6 percent requirement by 2014, followed by gradual increases thereafter to meet the 25 percent by 2025 goal.

Studies show a national RES would:

Create an additional 274,000–297,000 jobs. Over 50 percent of these jobs would be created in the manufacturing sector.

Save consumers almost $100 billion on their utility bills by 2030.

Provide $13.5 billion to farmers, ranchers and other landowners in the form of lease payments, creating new economic activity in rural communities across the United States.

Add $11.5 billion in new local tax revenues. These revenue streams improve the lives of residents and revitalize their communities.

Suppliers can meet the federal requirements by purchasing credits from other entities that have obtained credits by producing renewable energy. The RES also allows utilities to bank credits for four years and to borrow credits from up to three years in the future. Municipal and other publicly owned power plants and rural electric co-ops would be exempted from the requirements.

Including New Mexico and Colorado, a total of 29 states and the District of Columbia, representing over half of the U.S. electricity market, already have renewable generation standards with various timelines and targets. This legislation does not pre-empt states that have stronger standards.