U.S. Senate proposes Clean Energy Standard

U.S. Senators introduced a bill March 1 that would create a federal clean energy standard if passed.

The bill, called the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 (PDF), aims to increase the amount of low-carbon power produced in the U.S. to 80 percent by 2035, while providing policy certainty.

Senator Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, introduced the bill along with senators Bernie Sanders, I-VT; Al Franken, D-MN; and Chris Coons, D-DE.

The bill is designed so electric rates do not increase and allows utilities to buy an alternative compliance payment instead of clean energy credits. The money would be returned to energy efficiency programs run by the states.

The bill also has an exemption for small utilities with less than two million MWh in yearly sales, then gradually lowering the exemption level each year to bring more people into the program.

NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE) Chairman and CEO Lew Hay issued his support for the proposed standard.

“Senator Bingaman’s bill provides the right incentives for the nation’s electric utilities and equipment manufacturers to create good, high-paying jobs for American workers and for private capital to accelerateinvestment in innovative energy technologies,” Hay said in a statement. “The bill’s market-oriented standard would allow many different types of fuel sources to be competitive, while rewarding innovation, early action, efficiency and project execution.”

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