Senators Udall and Heinrich Unveil New Renewable Electricity Standard

National RES would pump nearly $300 billion into economy, create tens of thousands of jobs, help combat climate change

Yesterday, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich introduced a bill to create jobs, save consumers money and reduce pollution by creating a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). The legislation, which would help the United States diversify its energy sources while establishing our leadership in clean energy production, would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

The bill would create the first national threshold for utilities to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, including wind, solar, biomass and others. It would set an 8 percent requirement by 2016, followed by gradual and achievable increases thereafter to meet the 30 percent by 2030 goal. More than half of the states already have renewable generation standards with specific timelines  and target standards, and the legislation would not preempt stronger standards already implemented by states.

Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) joined Udall and Heinrich to introduce the bill.

“A national Renewable Electricity Standard will help slow utility rate increases and boost private investment in states like New Mexico — all while combatting climate change,” said Udall, who helped pass RES legislation through the U.S. House of Representatives and has continued to champion the issue as senator. “Investing in homegrown clean energy jobs just makes sense, and that’s why I’m continuing my fight for a national RES. More than half the states — including New Mexico — have widely successful RES policies, and it’s time to go all in. I’ve long pushed for a ‘do it all, do it right’ energy policy, and a RES will help us get there.”

“Becoming a nation that relies more on clean sources of energy is a common sense approach to slowing the devastating effects of climate change and critical if we want to create a healthier environment for future generations,”Heinrich said. “We’ve seen how successful RES policies are across the country, especially in New Mexico with our abundant sun and wind. Creating a national standard would help unleash the full potential of America’s clean, homegrown energy while putting people to work at the same time.”

An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that a “30-by-30” national RES would:

– Increase renewable energy generation 265 percent over current levels by 2030, helping to support and build upon the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the wind, solar, geothermal, and biopower industries today.

– Save consumers $25.1 billion in cumulative electricity and natural gas bills from 2015 to 2030.

– Drive $294 billion in cumulative new capital investments from 2015 to 2030 — $106 billion more than business as usual.

– Spur nearly $4.3 billion in additional annual operation and maintenance payments in 2030.

– Provide an additional $3.4 billion in new local tax revenues and wind power land lease payments to landowners through 2030, creating new economic activity in rural communities.

Leading environmental and energy organizations support a “30-by-30” national RES, including the Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, American Wind Energy Association, and Solar Energy Industries Association.

“Our analysis shows a 30 percent by 2030 national RES is achievable and would provide substantial consumer, economic, and climate benefits,” said Jeff Deyette, senior energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists.“The Udall/Markey proposal builds on the success of existing state policies to accelerate the innovation and investments needed for the U.S. to transition to a clean energy economy.”

“The American clean energy economy is already responsible for hundreds of thousands of American jobs, billions in investment, and power for millions of homes and businesses that don’t pollute our air, water, and climate,” said John Coequyt, Director of Federal Climate Programs for the Sierra Club. “The Sierra Club is proud to support Senator Udall and Senator Markey’s leadership to build on this success with legislation that will create even more jobs while protecting the health of our families and our communities from climate disruption.”

“We strongly support Senator Udall’s introduction of the Renewable Electricity Standard Act and applaud his leadership in promoting renewable energy nationwide,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of American Wind Energy Association.“The establishment of a national renewable electricity standard will lower energy costs for consumers, drive new investment and job growth, and diversify our nation’s energy resources.”

Udall has introduced and championed legislation to establish a national RES each Congress since his election to the Senate in 2008. His proposal is based on a bipartisan initiative he introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002, which eventually passed the House in 2007.