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Jul 282010
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Wind, solar, geothermal and other alternative energy industry groups have been lined up in support of a Renewable Electricity Standard or RES in which the U.S. would pledge to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.

The RES, they maintain, would provide an incentive for utilities, providers and cities and states to find ways to increase renewable electricity sources, even in the absence of a carbon cap-and-trade system, which seems to be a non-starter in Congress.

But this 15-year goal was not included in the Senate’s newly proposed energy bill, released last night — prompting a bitter response from the American Wind Energy Association and other renewable energy groups.

“Democrats, Republicans, environmental groups, labor unions, and companies across the country all strongly support the RES because it is essential for creating hundreds of thousands of American jobs, reducing carbon emissions, and increasing American independence from foreign oil,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode.

The omission of the RES, which would create a national goal similar to those already enacted by many states, does not make sense because bipartisan support exists for this amendment, Bode said. “We have 60 votes for an RES amendment and will continue to push for its consideration in this bill,” she said.

Furthermore, the omission comes at a time when the wind energy is suffering a downturn. “Today we announced that with only 700 megawatts added in the second quarter, wind power installations to date this year have dropped by 57% and 71% from 2008 and 2009 levels, respectively and manufacturing investment also continues to lag below 2008 and 2009 levels,” Bode said. (See a graphic of the boom and bust cycles suffered by the wind industry, which AWEA blames on erratic government support.)

A RES is a critical component to ensure the US wind industry thrives.”

The Senate’s pared-down energy bill addresses oil spills (removing a cap on oil company liability) and home energy conservation, and would provide incentives for natural gas and electric vehicles. But the $15 billion bill tackles little else. Senate leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has promoted it as able to be passed in a Senate that’s been deadlocked over climate change and energy action for a year. But other Democrats such as Mark Udall (D-Colo.) say they think the Senate could pass a modest RES of 15 percent renewables by 2020. (Iowa, taken by itself, already meets this level of renewable power with its wind installations.)

Some Republicans also support a RES, such as Sen. Sam Brownbeck, from the windy state of Kansas, who issued a statement this week saying that he would support a modest RES and thought it would be good for the country:

“I think it was wise that Senate leadership decided against including any form of cap and tax in the proposal.  With unemployment still hovering close to 10%, the American people have no appetite for legislation that would hurt our economy, while doing little to reduce global temperatures.  I would argue that most Americans believe that in addressing any challenge, it’s necessary to adopt a balanced, pragmatic strategy.  In this case, a moderate RES would be an important step towards a cleaner energy future, but without the job-killing provisions that come with cap and tax.”