The renewable energy standard (RES) is one of the reasons why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV)energy bill never saw the light of day.
RES is a requirement that the country will increase the percentage of its power generated from renewable energy sources within a certain time frame. RES would go a long way towards spurring private sector investment in renewables. The idea is popular as illustrated by a Pew/National Journal poll that indicated 78 percent of all respondents and 70 percent of Republicans favored a RES.
President Obama has talked about a clean energy standard (CES) that in addition to renewables, includes nuclear, efficient natural gas and coal with carbon capture. In the 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama urged lawmakers to establish a CES with a goal of generating 80 percent of the nation’s energy from “clean” sources by 2035. Calling the clean energy push “our generation’s Sputnik moment,” the President’s speech framed a clean energy standard in the larger context of improving the United States’ competitiveness in the global economy.
Under a national CES, electricity supply companies would have to produce a certain percentage of their electricity from clean energy sources, or purchase credits in the amount of the shortfall. Certified clean energy generators would earn credits for every unit of electricity they produce and could sell these along with their electricity to supply companies. The electricity supply companies would then submit the credits to a regulatory body to demonstrate compliance.
Although CES is not as safe or as clean as RES, it is the most viable in the current political climate. Republican inroads in the 2010 midterm elections killed any hope of a RES, however, CES may prove to be a politically acceptable alternative.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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