Congressman Ben Ray Luján Introduces Legislation to Promote Renewable Energy and Efficiency

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District has introduced legislation that will promote energy savings through increased efficiency standards and increased investments in renewable energy, such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and biomass.  The American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act, introduced by Luján and Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont – both members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, enacts a national renewable energy standard to reduce carbon emissions and drive clean energy deployment in states around the country.

“Promoting the use of renewable energy and increased energy efficiency is not only good for our environment, but it is good for our economy and for consumers,” Luján said.  “A renewable energy standard will drive the development of the clean energy sector, creating good jobs in communities across the country, especially New Mexico where we are home to abundant renewable resources.  A greater emphasis on energy efficiency will also lower energy bills and put more money back in the pockets of hard-working families.”

“The United States is lagging behind on energy efficiency and in adopting renewables. Our nation’s energy policies are overdue for a rewrite,” said Welch. “Our legislation charts a new energy future where energy efficiency and renewable technologies are put to work creating jobs, saving money and improving the environment.”

The legislation requires electric utilities to obtain a minimum of 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.  Electric and natural gas utilities will also need to implement energy efficiency programs in order to save the equivalent of 15 percent and 10 percent of sales respectively by 2025.

An analysis of the American Renewable Energy Efficiency Act and similar legislation found the bill would create more than 400,000 jobs, save the average household $39 annually in energy, and reduce carbon emissions by 480 million metric tons by 2025.  Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

As a member of the Public Regulatory Commission before coming to Congress, Luján worked with his colleagues to develop a renewable portfolio standard to increase renewable energy production by New Mexico utilities and to diversity utilities’ renewable portfolios to include solar energy.