Democratic, Republican senators revive push for renewable power mandate

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) on Tuesday will announce a new push for a renewable power mandate during this Congress.

The duo will lead a bipartisan group of senators in introducing a new version of a renewable power mandate that passed Bingaman’s panel last year.
 

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The new renewable electricity standard (RES) will be “very similar” to last year’s version, which required electricity companies to produce 15 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2021, according to Bingaman spokesman Bill Wicker. “There are changes,” he said.

Wicker declined to detail those changes, as well as the full list of senators who will be supporting the new version, except to say that Brownback will not be the only Republican backing the revised measure.


“We’re not going to get into names and numbers at this point but it’s growing,” Wicker said. “But the gist of it is a renewed effort on RES.”

Bingaman later released an advisory for a press conference Tuesday afternoon that promises the attendance of Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and "others," including Brownback.

An RES has emerged as a top priority for many environmentalists, renewable energy companies and Democrats following the collapse of broader climate change and energy legislation earlier this year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called an RES essentially dead before the August recess, arguing it lacks 60 votes, but more recently opened the door to bringing it up during a lame-duck debate over energy legislation.

Republicans have sought more inclusion of nuclear power in a mandate, as well as coal production using carbon capture and storage technology and hydroelectricity. 

Ben Geman contributed to this article.

This post was updated at 3:16 p.m.