The United States is at risk of being left in the dust in the cleanenergy race. But we can catch up. A Clean Energy Standard, or CES, which mandates that electric utilities generate a certain percentage oftheir power from clean energy sources, is an essential first step.
The global market for efficient andrenewable energy technologies is expected to reach at least $2 trillion by the end of this decade. China and the European Union, andespecially Germany, are clamoring to lead this clean energy race. These countries have set clear goals for renewable energy and energyefficiency use, along with carbon emission targets and investmentstrategies to promote clean technology development for export markets.
China, for instance, just released its 12th five-year plan, which mandates massive deployment of solar power in villages, a 17percent reduction in greenhouse gas intensity, and a 16 percentreduction in the energy intensity of their economy. China also investsan estimated $12 billion per month into its clean tech sector.
With the right policy tools we have the innovative strength and drive to lead the clean energy future. To do so we must increase marketdemand for clean energy products, help move public and private financing into clean tech industries, and create the necessary infrastructure to move these new energy resources to market.
Countries abroad—and states within our own nation—that have adoptedrenewable or clean energy standards demonstrate that a CES is anincredibly powerful tool to boost domestic demand for clean energyproducts. This in turn provides certainty for those who invent,manufacture, and install those products, and helps to grow a strongnational clean energy industry.
President Barack Obama put a CES proposal on the table in his mostrecent State of the Union address. He proposed that electric utilitiesbe required to generate 80 percent of their power from cleansources—including renewable energy, energy efficiency, nuclear power,and natural gas— by 2035. The Center for American Progress immediatelyoffered a similar, but more detailed, proposal: one that is guaranteedto generate demand for renewable technologies such as wind and solarpower by including a provision requiring that 35 percent of the CES bemet by renewable technologies and energy efficiency.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is exploringproposals to craft a strong and effective CES. Committee chair JeffBingaman (D-NM) and Ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recentlyreleased a white paper seeking comment on a wide range of questionsabout how to design the most effective CES for the nation. The questions were designed to engage advocates and industry in the initial designof this policy and to show the committee’s strong interest indeveloping a standard that actually works for a variety of regions andindustries across the nation.
The Center for American Progress was pleased to respond to the white paper and share our proposal for a CES designed to put the UnitedStates on a path toward clean energy leadership. Our responses wereguided by proposals that we have developed over the previous year aswell as principles that we feel are central to any clean energy policy development.
We believe that for a clean energy standard to be successful it must meet the following core principles:
- Generate new, long-lasting jobs and grow the economy
- Effectively spur development, production, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies
- Account for regional diversity in resources and electricity markets
- Be simple and transparent, and minimize costs
- Provide a floor, not a ceiling, for clean energy, strengthening and building on existing state leadership
We commend the committee on its approach to the policy design process and are excited about the prospects for this policy moving forward.The Senate has the opportunity to develop a no-cost, high-impact policy tool that will jumpstart the transformation to a clean energy economy. We hope they will seize that opportunity and provide a key catalyst to move America toward climate stability, energy security, andsustainable economic growth.
Richard W. Caperton, Kate Gordon , Bracken Hendricks, and Daniel J. Weiss in a CAP repost.