U.S. States & Regions
States and regions across the country are adopting climate policies, including the development of regional greenhouse gas reduction markets, the creation of state and local climate action and adaptation plans, and increasing renewable energy generation. Read More
A clean energy standard (CES) is one policy option for spurring the deployment of clean energy technology and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the electric power sector. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have enacted energy standards for the power sector. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) proposed a federal CES with the introduction of the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 on March 1, 2012, building on the state programs, President Obama's call for a federal clean energy standard, and earlier proposals from both sides of the aisle.
A CES is a type of electricity portfolio standard. An electricity portfolio standard requires electric utilities to supply specified percentages of their electricity sales from qualified energy sources (with credit sometimes given for electricity savings from energy efficiency) while typically allowing utilities to demonstrate compliance via tradable credits. Most state electricity portfolio standards and several congressional proposals have promoted renewable electricity generation through policies known as renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) or renewable electricity standards (RESs). Some states (e.g. Ohio) have instituted electricity portfolio standards that set requirements for "clean" or "alternative" energy, including not only renewables, but certain non-renewable electricity generation technologies, such as new nuclear power and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Several of the climate and energy legislative proposals in the 111th Congress (2009 – 2010) included national electricity portfolio standards—both RESs and CESs – such as the Bingaman-Murkowski energy bill, American Clean Energy and Leadership Act (ACELA), and Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) Clean Energy Standard Act. The concept of a federal CES attracted renewed attention during the 112th Congress (2011 – 2012) when President Obama proposed the adoption of a CES in his January 2011 State of the Union address. President Obama's proposal would double the share of electricity generated from clean energy sources to 80 percent by 2035. Of particular note, the Obama proposal would provide partial credit to efficient natural gas electricity generation under a CES, which the CES proposals in the 111th Congress would not do.
In the Senate, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ranking Member Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) undertook a thorough study of the policy components of a CES in spring of 2011, and solicited stakeholder input on policy design and implications. Bingaman drew on this study in writing his CES proposal, which was released in March 2012. Sen. Bingaman held one hearing related to the proposal in May 2012. The bill was not reported out of committee. In the House, the leadership of the Republican Party did not expressed interest in a CES, though some Democrats showed interest. The discussion of a CES is likely to evolve considerably in coming Congresses.
- Podcast: Interview with Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) on the committee hearing of the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, May 2012
- Blog: Senate Hearing on Bingaman Clean Energy Standard, May 17, 2012
- Congressional Testiony of Judi Greenwald, Full Committee Hearing: The Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, Before U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. 112th Congress. May 2012
- Clean Energy Standards: State and Federal Policy Options and Implications, November 2011
- An Illustrative Framework for a Clean Energy Standard for the Power Sector, November 2011
- Summary of Sen. Jeff Bingaman's Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, March 2012
- Comparison of CES Proposals (C2ES Illustrative Framework, Bingaman CES, Hall CES), updated March 2012
- Podcast: Clean Energy Standard 101. C2ES explains the basics of a CES. March 1, 2012
- Statement: Eileen Claussen Comment's on Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, March 2012
- Blog: The Bingaman Clean Energy Standard: What is "Clean"?, February 28, 2012
- Blog: The Bingaman Clean Energy Standard: Let the Conversation Begin, February 22, 2012
- Responses to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee CES White Paper, April 2011
- State Renewable & Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Map, updated August 2012
- State Energy Efficiency Standards and Targets Map, updated May 2012
- Comparison Chart: Diversified/Renewable Energy Standard Provisions in Climate and Energy Legislation in the 111th Congress, April 2011
- Race to the Top: The Expanding Role of U.S. State Renewable Portfolio Standards, June 2006
- Archived Webcast of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Full Committee Hearing: The Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012. May 17, 2012
- Webinar: Clean Energy Standards: State and Federal Policy Options and Implications. 2011 December 7. National Council on Electricity Policy (NCEP). (Video of the webinar posted here)
- Congressional Briefing: A Cleaner Way to Power? June 20, 2011. 2322 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515.
- Aldy, Joseph. "Promoting Clean Energy in the American Power Sector." The Hamilton Project. Discussion Paper 2011-04. May 2011.
- BPC's "The Administration's Clean Energy Standard Proposal An Initial Analysis." Bipartisan Policy Center Staff Paper. April 2011.
- Brown, Phillip. "Clean Energy Standard: Design Elements, State Baseline Compliance and Policy Considerations." Congressional Research Service (CRS). R41720. March 2011.
- CBO's "The Effects of Renewable or Clean Electricity Standards." July 2011.
- EIA's Analysis of the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 as requested by Chairman Bingaman
- EIA's Analysis of Impacts of a Clean Energy Standard as requested by Chairman Bingaman
- EIA's Analysis of Impacts of a Clean Energy Standard as requested by Chairman Hall
- EIA's What are renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and how do they affect renewable electricity generation?
- EIA's Impacts of a 25-Percent Renewable Electricity Standard as Proposed in the American Clean Energy and Security Act Discussion Draft
- EIA's Energy and Economic Impacts of Implementing Both a 25-Percent RPS and a 25-Percent RFS by 2025
- EIA's Impacts of a 15-Percent Renewable Portfolio Standard
- EIA's Energy Market Impacts of a Clean Energy Portfolio Standard - Follow-up
- EPA's RPS Fact Sheet
- White House State of the Union Clean Energy Standard Fact Sheet
- White House Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future (CES discussion on p. 35-36)
- RFF/EPA Workshop on "A Federal Clean Energy Standard: Understanding Important Policy Elements," July 2011.
- RFF, "Is a Clean Energy Standard a Good Way to Move U.S. Climate Policy Forward?," April 2011.
- RFF, "Modeling Policies to Promote Renewable and Low-Carbon Sources of Electricity," June 2010.
- RFF's responses to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee CES White Paper, April 2011.
- Ryan Wiser's "State of the States: Update on RPS Policies and Progress," Renewable Energy Markets 2010. October 26, 2010.
The Midwest Governors Association (MGA) recently held a briefing in Washington for congressional and federal agency staff to highlight key regional developments in clean energy job creation. As the Senate prepares to take up energy legislation this summer, state government officials and representatives from business groups and environmental organizations in the Midwest described the progress they have made promoting renewable energy in order to create jobs, benefit the environment, and increase energy security.
On June 4th, 2010 Vermont Governor Jim Douglas signed H. 781, “An Act Relating to Renewable Energy.” H.781 simplifies the process for permitting renewable energy projects without changing environmental standards and reforms the existing business solar tax incentive to strengthen the state’s commitment to renewable electricity. The changes to the business solar tax incentive include defining the available funding from the Clean Energy Development Fund and relaxing project deadlines to ease pressure on state regulators. The bill also removes the size limit on the definition of “renewable” for hydroelectric generation; this change is meant to solidify a relationship between Vermont and Hydro Quebec.
On May 19th, 2010 the three regional climate initiatives in North America – the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Midwestern GHG Reduction Accord, and the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) – jointly released a white paper entitled “Ensuring Offset Quality: Design and Implementation Criteria for a High-Quality Offset Program.” This paper recognizes the potential value of offsets and demonstrates a commitment to ensuring offset integrity.
Each regional program includes an offset component as a means to reduce compliance costs and increase compliance flexibility for covered sources. The regional initiatives are committed to ensuring that emissions reductions achieved through offset projects are real, additional, verifiable, permanent, and enforceable, and also based on uniform standards.
This white paper is a part of a broader effort of collaboration among the three regional programs, and is the first written product of the Three-Regions collaborative process.
Three Regions Offsets White Paper
Maryland On May 20, 2010 Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed four clean energy bills continuing the state’s leadership in sustainability. The new legislation includes the following:
- HB 469 creates a motor vehicle excise tax and a credit against the excise tax for electric vehicles. The credit applies to qualified plug-in electric vehicles and is equal to 100% of the State vehicle excise tax imposed, not to exceed $2000.
- HB 674 authorizes plug-in electric vehicles with MD permits to use high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes along the two federal highways in Maryland.
- HB 464 extends both the termination date of the existing clean energy production tax credit and the date by which a facility must begin producing qualified energy in order to claim the credit. The new termination date is December 31, 2010 and the extended qualifying production date is January 1, 2016.
- SB 277 increases the annual percentage requirements under Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) for electricity from solar energy sources between 2011 and 2016. The updated RPS requires a 0.5% carve-out for solar by 2016 compared to 0.35% in the earlier RPS. The alternative compliance payment (ACP) for failing to meet the solar requirement will also increase by $0.05 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2011 and by $0.10 per kWh beginning in 2013.
On May 13, 2010, Governor Joe Manchin signed Senate Bill 183, the Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act, which aims to reduce emissions by setting a limit on how long a diesel truck can run its engine when the vehicle is not moving. Starting June 11, 2010, diesel-powered vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds will be limited to idling for no more than 5 minutes per 60-minute period. Violators, including owners and operators of the vehicles and the locations where the vehicles load and unload, will face fines between $150 and $300.
The law provides a number of exemptions from the limit for idling due to highway traffic, traffic signals, emergencies, and work-related operations. Drivers idling in order to provide heating or air conditioning while sleeping or resting are exempt when parked legally and temperatures are below 40 or above 75 degrees; however, the exemption expires on May 1, 2011 when idle-reduction technology is expected to be more widely available.
On May 11, 2010 Maine Governor John E. Baldacci ceremonially signed five bills aimed at achieving the state’s goals for clean energy development and energy independence. The five pieces of energy legislation include the following:
- LD 1786, “An Act Regarding Energy Infrastructure Development,” calls for the use of designated energy corridors if the corridor’s use is likely to reduce electric rates and benefit the long-term public interest of the State, including the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Revenues from the use of state-owned lands or assets are directed to improve energy efficiency and increase renewable energy generation.
- LD 1535, “An Act to Create a Smart Grid Policy in the State,” establishes a state policy on smart grid infrastructure as a means to improve power reliability and the overall efficiency of the power resource and delivery system while reducing energy consumption, GHGs and costs to consumers.
- LD 1717, “An Act to Increase the Affordability of Clean Energy for Homeowners and Businesses,” authorizes municipalities to implement property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs through a local ordinance that provides financing to property owners for clean energy improvements. Municipalities will be able to use federal grants or any other funds available for the purpose of funding PACE programs.
- LD 1504, “An Act to Provide Predictable Benefits to Maine Communities that Host Wind Energy Developments,” clarifies that as the State aggressively pursues wind power, ratepayers in host communities will receive a minimum level of benefits through a community benefits package. The community benefits package is evaluated as a part of the permit application submitted by wind energy developers.
- LD 1810, “An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force,” advances the development of Maine’s renewable ocean energy resource by establishing a state goal of five gigawatts of electricity generation from facilities located in coastal waters by 2030.
On March 18, 2010 Oregon Governor Ted Kuglonoski signed Senate Bill 1059, legislation that lays the groundwork for smart, sustainable, and cost-effective transportation systems. Specifically, the new law directs the Oregon Transportation Commission, in consultation with metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), other state agencies, local governments and stakeholders, to develop a state-level strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation sources. The legislation also directs the state Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to develop a toolkit to assist local governments and MPOs in reducing GHGs from transportation, and create guidelines for scenario planning. Additionally, ODOT, the Department of Environmental Quality and the State Department of Energy shall provide information to the DLCD to set transportation-related GHG reduction targets (not mandates) for major metropolitan areas.
SB 1059 implements some of the recommendations from the Metropolitan Planning Organization and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Task Force established by the Legislature in 2009.
On February 25, 2010, the California Air Resources Board adopted a regulation to limit and monitor sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions from electric power sector equipment. SF6 is a highly inert and non-corrosive gas, and because of these properties it is used in small amounts as insulation for high-voltage switchgear, which are components of the electrical transmission and distribution system. The measure was developed in consultation with electric utility representatives and is expected to achieve a 70 percent reduction of SF6 emissions statewide from electrical utilities – a total reduction of 250,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020.
The measure takes effect January 1, 2011, and from 2011 to 2020, it ratchets down the allowable SF6 emission rate from 10 percent in 2011 to 1 percent in 2020. The emission rate is the percentage of total SF6 that grid equipment is designed to use for insulation that can be emitted each year.
This post first appeared today in the National Journal Energy & Environment Experts blog.
As with many aspects of climate policy, there is some truth to the arguments on both sides of the debate over how federal legislation should treat state action and EPA Clean Air Act (CAA) authority. The answer is less about who is right or wrong and more about appropriately balancing the strengths and weaknesses brought to the table by states and the federal government. Both have important roles to play in a strong federal climate and clean energy program.