Amongst those who have fought for energy reform, the announcement that Senators Jeff Bingaman (D- N.M.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) are pursuing a stand-alone renewable energy standard (RES) should be cause for both cautious celebration and deep concern. While a RES could be an effective tool to help catalyze a market for clean-energy, this particular bill falls short of the ambitious legislation needed to ensure that America is competitive in the global clean-energy economy. In talking about this piece of legislation it is important that we distinguish between the effects of the policy and the symbolism of its potential passage.
Although the final language hasn’t been released, Bingaman’s bill will likely set out of the goal of 15% of renewable production by 2021 with up to 4% coming from efficiency. This proposal is essentially a paired down version of Bingaman’s contribution to the 2009 American Clean Energy Leadership Act (ACELA), which called for a stiffer 20% renewable production goal.