Senators to Introduce Renewable Electricity Standard Bill – UPDATE

A group of bi-partisan senators are set to introduce a Renewable Electric Standard (RES) legislation at a press conference scheduled for? tomorrow. Senators? Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) are sponsoring the bill. Also supporting it? are Senators? Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

The RES is perceived as a sort of “friendly cap-and-trade,”? that at least politically can rally the bi-partisan support the Kerry-Lieberman legislation — and its cap-and-trade provision — couldn’t muster.? But rather than price carbon, a federal RES would mandate electric utilities to generate a required amount of power from renewables.

In a prepared statement Senator Bingaman said he was confident there would be enough votes? to get his bill passed. He said: “I think that the votes are present in the Senate to pass a renewable electricity standard. I think that they are present in the House. I think that we need to get on with figuring out what we can pass and move forward.”

But with mid-term elections in November is there enough time to even debate (and hopefully pass) an RES bill? A few weeks ago Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) floated the idea passing some sort of energy bill during the lame duck session after the elections. Securing bi-partisan support would help dampen any uproar this might create with the Republican opposition.

Senator Bingaman, who chairs the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has drafted a prolific number of energy bills over the last couple of year. Last July him and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the? Storage 2010 legislation, which if enacted, could provide energy storage companies up to? $1.5 billion? in federal tax credits.

On the RES, a study released last winter predicted that an ambitious RES of 25 percent by 2025 would add 274,000 new green energy jobs.

UPDATE- 4:33 PM: A spokesman with the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee tells G.E.R. that the bill sponsors are confident they can get their legislation passed during the current 111th Congress. The spokesman doesn’t rule out a vote after the November midterms, in the lame duck session.

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