Senators press Reid for tougher renewable power standard

The Energy Committee plan sets a standard of 15 percent by 2021, but allows utilities to meet up to a fourth of the target with energy efficiency measures.

The upcoming letter to Reid, obtained by The Hill, praises the committee’s action but adds: “We believe that when it gets to the floor, it should be strengthened to achieve our potential of creating hundreds of thousands of American jobs and reinstating the U.S. as a leader in the increasingly competitive global clean energy industry.”

Sens. Dorgan and Mark Udall are both members of the Energy Committee and since last year have vowed to try and strengthen the committee’s bill.

The letter also says that including a higher RES in the upcoming energy bill would provide market “certainty” that would spur billions of dollars worth of investments in domestic manufacturing of renewable energy equipment. The letter does not call for a specific target, but points to a study by the firm Navigant Consulting that concluded a standard of 20 percent by 2020 and 25 percent by 2025 would generate hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Several other senators have called for toughening the RES that the Energy Committee approved last year with several GOP votes. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) — who is supporting the letter — this month introduced a bill that creates a standard of 25 percent by 2025.

An RES has been a longstanding goal for many Democrats, environmental groups and renewable power companies. But it also faces substantial GOP resistance. Some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have instead called for a broader low-carbon energy standard that would also include nuclear power and electricity generated from coal plants that trap and store carbon.

The upcoming letter attacks the idea of a standard that includes non-renewable energy sources, urging Reid “not to weaken” the measure.

Reid’s state is home to solar power and other renewable energy projects, and he has long called for policies that boost those industries.

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