Bingaman Introduces Clean Energy Standard

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has unveiled his long-anticipated Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 (CES) legislation. The measure would gradually mandate that regulated utilities increase their use of use of low-carbon energy sources like natural gas, nuclear and renewable power beginning in 2015. The bill would effectively double the current percentage of zero-carbon generated electricity to 80% by 2035.

According to Bingaman’s office, the CES sets a national goal for clean energy and establishes a transparent framework that lets resources compete based on how clean they are. The CES employs a straightforward, market-based approach that encourages a wide variety of electricity-generating technologies. Under the plan, all generators of clean energy are given credits based upon their carbon emissions. Greater numbers of credits are given to generators with lower emissions per unit of electricity. Progress on the bill is expected to be slow during the 2012 election year.

“While the CES doesn’t give utilities credit for installation of geothermal heat pumps,” says Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) President and CEO Doug Dougherty, “the bill does direct the U.S. Department of Energy to study how they might be included going forward. We are committed to working with Senator Bingaman and DOE to determine the best way to include GHPs on an equivalency basis with renewable power purchases by electric utilities.”