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How to Shape the Clean Energy Future of the United States

How to Shape the Clean Energy Future of the United States

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A Clean Energy Standard is a primary way for the United States to compete in the trillion-dollar renewable energy technologies market. Richard W. Caperton, Kate Gordon, Bracken Hendricks, and Daniel J. Weiss propose core principles to guide its design.
A Clean Energy Standard is a primary way for the United States to compete in the trillion-dollar renewable energy technologies market. Richard W. Caperton, Kate Gordon, Bracken Hendricks, and Daniel J. Weiss propose core principles to guide its design.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Apr 25, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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 1
Response to Bingaman-Murkowski Clean Energy StandardWhite Paper
Center for American ProgressSubmitted to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources CommitteeApril 2011
 
 2Setting a clear and stable goal to move America toward a cleaner energy future is essential inorder to foster innovation, pursue a more sustainable economic growth model, and join the restof the world in the global race to dominate clean technology markets. For this reason, the Centerfor American Progress applauds the c
ommittee’s efforts in developing a clean energy standard.
 In embracing this agenda, however, we emphasize that it is essential that such a policy builds astrong market for the lowest-emission, truly renewable energy technologies. First and foremost,that requires a specific target to ensure the growth of our cleanest electricity resources includingenergy efficiency, and wind, solar, geothermal, and other truly renewable electricity sources.For that reason, we at the Center for American Progress recently recommendedthat an 80
 percent clean energy standard include a requirement that 35 percent of America’s energy needs
will be met by truly renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2035. This internal goal withinthe clean energy standard will ensure the growth of strong markets for technologies such aswind, solar, sustainable biomass, incremental hydroelectric power, and geothermal energy, aswell as the most effective solutions for reducing energy demand though energy efficiency. CAPbelieves strongly that such a target is essential for a strong and effective clean energy standard.As an initial matter, we also encourage Congress and the Obama administration to ensure thatany developing clean energy standard meets the following core principles:
 
It must generate new, long-lasting jobs and grow the economy.
 
It must effectively spur development and deployment of renewable energy and energyefficiency technologies.
 
It must account for regional diversity in resources and electricity markets.
 
It must be simple and transparent, and minimize costs.
 
It must provide a floor not a ceiling for clean energy, strengthening and building onexisting state leadership.These five principles inform our more detailed responses to the white paper.Finally, our research at the Center for American Progress has found that broad deployment of clean energy technologies will require three things: market demand, financing, andinfrastructure. The clean energy standard is a very powerful demand driver, but there will still bechallenges in meeting the financing and infrastructure needs of a clean energy future. The cleanenergy standard should be accompanied by a set of policies directed at financing andinfrastructure.
Question 1.
 
Should there be a threshold for inclusion or should all electricutilities be subject to the standards set by a CES?
A Clean Energy Standard will be most effective if broadly applied. Neither the risks associatedwith pollution from traditional energy sources, nor the benefits of moving to clean energysources, discriminate based on arbitrary distinctions between utilities. Indeed, one of the primary
 
 3considerations the Center for American Progress makes in thinking about how to design a cleanenergy standard is that every American should have the opportunity to reap the positive rewardsfrom clean energy. This principle argues for broad inclusion.However, some utilities may face significant technical and market-based barriers to quicklydeploying clean energy. For example, small utilities
 — 
those that sell fewer than 4 millionmegawatt-hours of power per year
 — 
may be at a disadvantage in meeting a clean energy standardbecause they lack the capital or market share to invest in such technologies. Instead of a blanketexemption, we recommend that these utilities either be exempted only in the early years of aprogram, or that they be given a slower transition period in which to comply with a CES. If such
an exception is made, it’s important that small utilities’ consumers ultimately be served with the
same amount of clean energy sources as other, larger utilities, and that small utilities not fallbehind the rest of the economy in the race to a clean energy future.

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