Udall pulls amendment to boost federal Renewable Electricity Standard

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall Thursday first introduced than pulled back an amendment that would have strengthened a proposed national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) of 15-percent renewable electricity for all utilities by the year 2021.

The RES proposed in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Udall is a member of, would fall short of Colorado’s RES of 20 percent by 2020 — 10 percent of which was mandated by voters in 2004 (Amendment 37), with the other 10 percent imposed by the State Legislature in 2007. Rural electric co-ops are only subject to a 10-percent mandate.

Udall in a release said he pulled back an amendment that would have required 25 percent by 2025 because he knew there still wasn’t enough support for the higher number. He also objected to a stipulation in the RES that 4 percent of a utility’s 15-percent requirement could come from increasing efficiency in existing, conventional power plants.

The RES deliberation is part of the broader American Clean Energy and Security Act, which some environmentalists have criticized as not going far enough in establishing a carbon cap and a renewable standard. The Eldorado Springs Democrat helped get Amendment 37 passed in 2004, and other Colorado lawmakers are expected to play key roles in crafting the current federal bill.

Here’s the statement Udall released Thursday on the RES debate:

“While I’m disappointed that the RES proposed by the Committee today isn’t stronger, it is a small but important step in the right direction toward setting a national goal to increase our renewable energy use. My own home state of Colorado is an example of the potential benefit for the rest of the country. Since 2004, when Colorado’s RES was first approved by voters, more than 3,000 jobs have been created in the wind and solar energy fields alone.

“A federal standard has the power to create hundreds of thousands of renewable energy jobs, while reducing pollution and helping us end our dangerous addiction to foreign fossil fuels. Today, I offered an amendment that would increase the standard to 25 percent by 2025 because I thought it was important to emphasize that there is support on the Committee for a stronger RES. I withdrew the amendment because I knew there was not enough support for it yet among Committee members.

“We still have much work to do on the Energy Bill as well as on the Renewable Electricity Standard. I led the effort to create an RES in Colorado, and I will continue my efforts to create a strong national RES as well. I firmly believe that with a stronger standard, we will be able to lead the world in renewable energy production. But without it, we may see that opportunity pass us by.”

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