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.