Reid Seeks Renewable Provision in Energy Bill

by | Sep 1, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Tuesday a nationwide renewable-electricity standard, or RES, is “absolutely” in the mix as he tries to salvage energy legislation he introduced earlier this year, E2 Wire reports.

Before the August recess, Reid said he doubted a RES — which would require utilities to provide escalating amounts of power from sources like wind and solar energy — could win 60 votes. It was left on the cutting-room floor when Reid unveiled a modest energy bill in late July.

Reid told reporters on a conference call the energy bill is still a work in progress and said two Republican senators have expressed interest in a RES. He did not name them, however.

Reid also said in a Reuters article that within the next week he will set a time to speak to those senators.  He made his remarks on a conference call to promote a Sept. 7 clean energy conference that he is co-hosting at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Reid also suggested passing energy legislation could be more likely during a lame-duck session. He noted the Senate would resume work after the recess but added, “Maybe, after the elections, we can get some more Republicans to work with us,” E2 Wire reports.

The energy and oil spill response package that Reid unveiled in late July contained rebates for home-efficiency retrofits and measures to boost deployment of natural gas-powered trucks and electric cars.

But Reid is under pressure from renewable energy groups, environmentalists and many members of his caucus to include a RES.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year approved a RES as part of a broader energy package that cleared the panel with several GOP votes. That bill would require utilities to provide 15 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2021, although about a fourth of the requirement could be met with energy-efficiency programs.

A move to renewable energy sources has long been a pillar of Democratic energy plans, but the proposals face resistance from many Republicans and some southern lawmakers from both parties,which have expressed fear that their states lack enough renewable resources to meet the targets.

Some Republicans — notably Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — have floated a broader clean energy standard that would include nuclear power and electricity from coal plants that trap carbon emissions.

Reid was clear that the bill won’t include any sort of emissions cap on carbon emissions, because that idea does not have the necessary support for passage, he told the Washington Independent.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) and others had worked for months to craft a climate change bill that could pass. But negotiations on the bill collapsed earlier this year when it became clear the bill could not garner 60 votes.

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