Cashing In on Clean Energy (2007)

A National Renewable Electricity Standard Will Benefit the Economy and the Environment
July 2007

Analysis of the House-passed 15 percent by 2020 Renewable Electricity Standard.

In August 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed energy legislation (H.R. 3221) that included a 15 percent by 2020 national standard. Although the Senate passed an energy bill in June 2007 that did not include a national standard, it has supported the policy three times since 2002 (most recently in June 2005). House and Senate negotiators will have to decide whether to include a national standard in the final bill.  UCS updated our July 2007 Cashing In on Clean Energy analysis to examine the effects of the House-passed standard and found that it would provide the following benefits:

Consumer Savings
$13 billion to $18.1 billion in lower electricity and natural gas bills by 2020 (growing to $27.7 billion to $31.8 billion by 2030)

Energy Diversity
Increase in clean, renewable energy capacity to between 3.6 and 4.5 times over 2005 levels

Climate Solutions
Reductions in global warming pollution equal to taking between 13.7 and 20.6 million cars off the road

Download the updated Cashing In on Clean Energy analysis including a breakout of consumer energy bill savings by state.

America’s current energy system is dominated by fossil fuels, which pose serious threats to our health and environment and leave us vulnerable to price spikes and supply shortages. With the threat of global warming becoming increasingly urgent, we must make responsible energy choices today that ensure a safe, reliable power supply and a healthy environment for future generations.

Fortunately, there are practical and affordable ways to achieve this goal. Homegrown renewable energy resources—such as wind, solar, bioenergy, and geothermal—can help reduce our dependence on polluting fossil fuels. These clean energy sources can also help stabilize energy prices, stimulate the development of innovative new technology, and create high-quality jobs and other economic benefits.

The Benefits of a National Renewable Electricity Standard

Job Creation
185,000 new jobs from renewable energy development

Economic Development
$66.7 billion in new capital investment, $25.6 billion in income to farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners, and $2 billion in new local tax revenues

Consumer Savings
$10.5 billion in lower electricity and natural gas bills by 2020 (growing to $31.8 billion by 2030) 

Climate Solutions
Reductions in global warming pollution equal to taking 36.4 million cars off the road

Strong national policies can ensure these benefits are fully realized. The policy that has proven most effective and popular at the state level is the renewable electricity standard (also known as the renewable portfolio standard or RPS), which requires electricity providers to supply a minimum percentage of their power from clean energy sources. As of June 2007, renewable electricity standards have been adopted in 23 states and Washington, DC. At the national level, the U.S. Senate has passed a 10 percent by 2020 national renewable electricity standard three times since 2002—most recently in June 2005—only to be rejected by the House conferees each time.

Momentum continues to grow for a strong national standard. A 20 percent by 2020 standard was introduced in the House in February 2007, and a 15 percent by 2020 standard is under consideration in the Senate. Using a model from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) examined the long-term effects that a national 20 percent by 2020 standard would have on the economy and the environment. 

The UCS analysis was conducted at the national level and an additional breakout of state benefits was completed for 20 states. PDFs of the fact sheets can be viewed by clicking on the links below.

Cashing In on Clean Energy July 2007 Analysis of 20% by 2020 Standard
Cashing In on Clean Energy October 2007 Analysis of 15% by 2020 Standard

July 2007 20% by 2020 Standard




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