New Paper Details Options for Clean Energy Standards

Press Release 
November 17, 2011
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146


Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and the Regulatory Assistance Project
Explore State & Federal Policy Alternatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A well-designed clean energy standard (CES) can create new industries, diversify U.S. electricity supplies, and reduce air pollution, according to a new paper released today by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP).

The paper, Clean Energy Standards: State and Federal Policy Options and Implications, examines issues and options in designing a clean energy standard – a policy that requires electric utilities to deliver a certain amount of electricity from clean energy sources. The paper’s aim is to help policymakers, utility regulators, and other stakeholders better understand how a CES works, its potential benefits, and the implications of different national- and state-level policy options.

“We stand at a crossroads in America’s energy landscape,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “Transitioning to a cleaner, more diverse energy supply is necessary to grow new energy industries at home, limit our exposure to fuel-price volatility and regulatory risk, and reduce the greenhouse gases contributing to global climate change.  A well-designed clean energy standard can help drive a major shift toward innovative U.S. energy solutions.”

Thirty-one states now have some form of renewable or alternative energy portfolio standard. Yet in the absence of significant new policies, according to the paper, the share of U.S. electricity coming from clean energy sources is unlikely to increase more than a few percentage points in the next 25 years. At the national level, Republican-sponsored CES bills were introduced in the last Congress and President Obama called for a federal CES in his 2011 State of the Union address.

“The CES idea is relatively new, and this paper will facilitate a broader and better-informed discussion of a CES at the state and federal levels,” said Richard Sedano, Director of U.S. Programs for the Regulatory Assistance Project. “Cleaning up the electric power sector is a challenge of monumental proportions, but we’ve already seen the power of renewable portfolio standards and CES policies in many states and feel certain that even more progress can be made.”

Among the key issues for policymakers is defining “clean energy.”  Options include renewables; highly efficient natural gas combined cycle generation; fossil fuel generation with carbon capture and storage (CCS); nuclear power; and electricity savings from efficiency and conservation. By allowing utilities flexibility to choose among energy sources, the paper notes, a CES can minimize cost impacts on electricity consumers. A CES can also limit utilities’ and consumers’ exposure to fuel-price volatility by diversifying electricity supplies, and spur growth and jobs in clean energy industries.

For more information about the climate and energy challenge and the activities of the C2ES, visit


About C2ES
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, long recognized in the United States and abroad as an influential and pragmatic voice on climate issues. C2ES is led by Eileen Claussen, who previously led the Pew Center and is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

About the Regulatory Assistance Project
The Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) is a global, non-profit team of experts focused on the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of the power and natural gas sectors. We provide technical and policy assistance on regulatory and market policies that promote economic efficiency, environmental protection, system reliability and the fair allocation of system benefits among consumers. We have worked extensively in the US since 1992 and in China since 1999. We added programs and offices in the European Union in 2009 and plan to offer similar services in India in the near future.