May 12, 2015

Udall, Markey, Heinrich, Bennet, Merkley, Whitehouse, Hirono Unveil New Renewable Electricity Standard

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

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) 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.

"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."

"Massachusetts is a clean-tech juggernaut, leading the way in creating 21st century clean energy jobs," Markey said. "A national Renewable Electricity Standard would create good paying jobs, save consumers money and reduce harmful carbon pollution. From Boston to Barstow, we can put our steelworkers and ironworkers and electricians to work building a new clean energy backbone for America."

"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."

"Colorado's robust renewable energy standard has already helped spark entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation," Bennet said. "Across Colorado, small business owners and renewable energy companies are tapping into the potential of clean, renewable energy sources to create jobs across our state. This bill sets realistic goals that will boost Colorado's clean energy economy and help protect our land, air, and water."

"Our record droughts, burning forests, dying fish, and melting icecaps all point to the urgency of taking on climate change," Merkley said. "The only answer is burning less fossil fuel and moving toward renewable energy. Senator Udall's bill would accelerate that transition and is a key to saving both our economy and our environment from the ravages of climate change."

"To protect public health and address climate change, and to boost our economy, we need to move away from fossil fuels and transition to clean, renewable energy," Whitehouse said. "A national renewable electricity standard will support this transition and speed the growth of industries like wind and solar that are creating good jobs in Rhode Island and across the nation. I'm happy to support this bill, and I thank Senator Udall for his leadership."

"Hawaii faces the highest energy costs in the country and the people of Hawaii know we need to transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean sources of energy that help us preserve a healthy climate. Since enacting a statewide goal in 2009 of generating 40 percent of Hawaii's electricity from renewable sources by 2030, Hawaii's renewable generation has doubled from 9.4 percent to over 18 percent. Last week the Hawaii State Legislature updated our state goal to seek 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045," Hirono said. "Setting a goal, and letting the private sector meet that goal, has helped to drive innovation and investment in clean energy in Hawaii and will do the same for states across the country. The bill that we're introducing today creates a nationwide standard that would help to drive demand for clean energy solutions, attracting investment and providing much needed certainty for the renewable energy industry while decreasing dependency on fossil fuels. In short, this legislation would set our nation on a path to diversifying our energy sources, increasing our energy security, and creating a more sustainable future."

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.