U.S. Groups Call for Federal Renewable Energy Standard
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, More than 100 organizations in the United
calling for federal legislation to increase the use of renewable
The adoption of a federal renewable energy standard would help
insulate the U.S. from energy price shocks by
diversifying energy supply, according to the Clean Energy
Blueprint developed by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The report says America could achieve at least 20 percent of its
electricity from wind, solar, geothermal and biomass
energy sources by 2020 and save consumers money, when combined with
policies to save energy.
"This report shows that there are alternative solutions to
the erratic prices and supply of commodities like natural gas,"
says report author Alan Nogee. "Adopting a renewable energy
standard would diversify electricity generation, as well
as reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions."
The report was released Monday as the U.S. Senate starts to debate
energy legislation. It outlines a series of policies
to increase U.S. use of renewable energy and energy efficiency,
including a renewable portfolio standard that would
require electric utilities to increase non-hydro renewable energy
from the current level of 2 percent to 20 percent of
overall electricity generation by 2020.
Consumers would save US$440 billion from 2002 to 2020 if the recommendations
were to become law, says Nogee.
Energy-efficiency policies are a major component of the document,
including new minimum efficiency standards on
appliances and other equipment, tax incentives for advanced energy-saving
products and matching funds for
state-based energy-efficiency programs.
"The UCS report provides the sort of well-reasoned and documented
analysis of all energy options, not simply those
favored by the existing fossil-fuel industry, that are needed to
promote energy security and favorable economics
through supply diversity," says Daniel Kammen of the Renewable
& Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of
California, Berkeley. "A renewable energy portfolio standard
provides the sort of sound -- economically driven -- basis
for a diverse and clean energy economy that should be embraced by
free-market economists and environmentalists
Renewable energy standards have been adopted in Arizona, Connecticut,
Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota,
Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.
The UCS report recommends that the federal
government set a national level.
"Renewable portfolio standards have been a tremendous success
in several states, including in President Bush's
home state of Texas," explains Nogee. "If there truly
is commitment to creating energy security in the U.S., enacting
federal renewable standards will reduce the vulnerability of our
energy system to disruption. It is the smart, affordable
and effective option."
The recommended policies would also reduce U.S. use of natural
gas by 31 percent and coal by 60 percent, and save
more oil by 2020 than can be economically recovered from the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge in 60 years, it says. They
would avoid the need for 975 new power plants, retire 180 old coal
plants, retire 14 existing nuclear reactors and
reduce the need for thousands of miles of new gas pipelines and
electricity transmission lines.
"This study makes it clear that on both economic and environmental
grounds, the renewable portfolio standard makes
sense," says Nogee. "In our post-September 11 world, we
recognize that diversifying electricity supply, as a
renewable energy standard would also help reduce the security risk
to our electricity generation infrastructure."
The document was developed with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient
Economy and the Tellus Institute.