A proposal in Congress for a federal mandate for the amount of electricity produced from renewable energy sources has spurred both support and criticism. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chairman of the Senate’s Energy & Natural Resources Committee, announced he is planning to offer an amendment enacting a national renewable portfolio standard or “RPS” when the Senate takes up energy legislation this month. The RPS would require utilities to provide 15% of the electricity they generate from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal. Utilities could also purchase renewable energy credits or “RECs” from other utilities or generators who produce electricity from renewable sources to meet the standards.
This proposal would require utilities to supply 15% of electricity from renewable resources received support from nearly 200 corporations, trade associations and other groups on Friday. These corporations and organizations included General Electric Inc., Google, the United Steelworkers, BP America and Sierra Club.
The proposal has been criticized by various utilities and the Edison Electric Institute as creating costs for utilities in states that, because of their location, do not allow for much renewable energy production. These corporations or organizations believe the state RPS should be left in place and no federal standard imposed.
A federal program appears to be gaining support in both the House and Senate.