A new bill would enact radical change in the support for renewable energy technology and environmental regulation of the energy industry, implementing a large-scale national renewable energy standard.
Introduced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 proposes to create a national target for the amount of electricity produced by renewable energy sources.
Modeled off the renewable portfolio standards that have been implemented by states across the country, the new bill would provide utility companies with permits for the production of clean energy, defined fairly broadly by the amount of carbon emissions generated per unit of electricity.
This system would set high-efficiency coal plants as the standard, providing full credits for renewable energy technologies like wind and solar as well as nuclear power. Meanwhile, natural gas-fired power plants would receive partial credits, as would coal-fired generators with carbon sequestration technology.
Because the national clean energy standard, like the current renewable portfolio standards, would increase slowly but steadily, utilities would have time to transition in the most economical fashion as technologies develop.