Modest US renewables target signals Senate approval of renewables industry

A modest US renewables target requiring 10% of national power demands to be supplied from renewable energy sources by 2020 has been approved by the US Senate, following its rejection last week of a 20% target over the same period.


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This is in line with the expectations of green groups, as reported by edie last week (see related story), but as predicted, the current lack of consensus within the Senate on the overall energy policy is likely to prolong the final voting on the Energy Policy Act 2002, until well into April.

The adopted renewables provision, proposed by Democrat, Jeff Bingaman Chairman of the Senate and Natural Resources Committee, allows for a gradual transition, beginning with 1% of a utility’s sales base from renewable by 2005 and increasing to 10% in 2020. Additionally, utilities may earn and bank credits to be used to satisfy their obligations if they produce over the required amount. Bingaman believes the new policy will also help regenerate the US’s renewables manufacturing sector and stimulate rural economic development.

“The United States was once a world leader in the manufacture of renewable technologies,” said Bingaman. “This provision will help create a robust domestic market for the technologies that will help US suppliers to recapture their former dominance in these markets.” For example, New Mexico’s burgeoning dairy industry plans to generate electricity via anaerobic digestion of manure and dairy by-products.

In a further, but again modest, move towards renewable alternatives, the Senate rejected a Republican proposal to give states the freedom to decide whether their utilities would be required to use renewables.

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