Moving swiftly to make up for lost time, the Obama administration and the Democratic-led Congress have been building their power base and seeking to gather bi-partisan support for several significant government initiatives related to climate change since the new president took office less than one month ago.
Aiming to create jobs, spur private investment while at the same time mitigating climate change, Representatives Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Todd Platts (R-Pa.) yesterday proposed establishing a national renewable electricity, or power, standard that would require utilities to source 25% of the electricity they generate from renewable sources by 2025. Rep. Markey also introduced a national energy efficiency standard. Taken together, the bills' sponsors forecast that they will lead to the creation of more than 500,000 jobs and save consumers more than $180 billion.
A National RES
Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia already have renewable electricity standards in place. Markey and Platts’s ‘American Renewable Energy Act’ would establish a national RES.
“A national standard will further unleash technology innovation and put Americans back to work, creating more than 350,000 green jobs over the next decade,” according to a House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming media release. “During the last Congress, the House repeatedly passes RES legislation with bipartisan support, and a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll said that 84 percent of Americans support requiring utilities to increase their use of renewable energy.”
Conserving Energy through Efficiency Standards
Rep. Markey’s proposed ‘Save American Energy Act’ would establish an energy efficiency standard with a target of reducing electricity demand 15% by 2020. Experts agree that conserving energy by increasing the energy efficiency of homes, buildings, appliances and electric/electronic equipment is the quickest, cheapest and surest route to reducing CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reducing dependence on imported oil and other fossil fuels.
Peak electricity demand would be cut by some 90,000 megawatts by 2020 if the bill were to be passed, according to the bill’s sponsors, removing the need to build the equivalent of 300 medium-sized power plants. Moreover, the efficiency measures included in it over the next 20 years would lead to $130 billion in savings to consumers and the creation of some 260,000 jobs in activities such as retrofitting buildings and weatherizing homes.
Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Rep. Markey is a longstanding advocate of more aggressively developing renewable energy resources, as well as increasing energy efficiency across American society. In 1987 he authored the Appliance Efficiency Act. “Energy efficiency is all about working smarter, not harder,” Rep. Markey stated in yesterday’s media release. “This legislation has the effect of producing more energy without ever having to build a power plant. It is the most cost-effective, money-saving measure for consumers and utilities.”