Act NOW to change America:

The House is considering, amid all the energy legislation, instituting a nation-wide renewable power standard (RPS). HR969 is up for a vote TODAY!  ACT NOW!

Oh … boring … the snores have begun …

No

Actually

CRITICAL to moving toward a prosperous and sustainable energy future.

Here is a step that you can take to Energize America.

The Energy Bill is in the House this week.  One of the most critical possible changes is a twenty percent Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) (the Senate considered (and didn’t pass) a 15% RPS).  

You should (NOW) WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE to call on them to support H.R. 969, the Federal Renewable Energy Standards
Act
.

Confused, follow over the fold to learn more about RPS and why they matter.

*NOTE* When writing Congress, also make a plug for higher CAFE standards. While 35 mpg by 2020 is a weak objective, it is an objective.  Thus, please add a line like:  “As well, I support a 50 mpg CAFE standard by 2020. A 35 mpg is an absolute minimum for putting in place.”

So, some questions for the curious …

What is a Renewable Power Standard?

The Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a flexible, market-driven policy that can ensure that the public benefits of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy continue to be recognized as electricity markets become more competitive. The policy ensures that a minimum amount of renewable energy is included in the portfolio of electricity resources serving a state or country, and — by increasing the required amount over time — the RPS can put the electricity industry on a path toward increasing sustainability. Because it is a market standard, the RPS relies almost entirely on the private market for its implementation. Market implementation will result in competition, efficiency and innovation that will deliver renewable energy at the lowest possible cost.

In short, an RPS provides guidance to electric utilities as to what percentage of their power (at a minimum) must be derived from renewable resources.  The utilities, in essence, can then determine how best to meet that renewable power requirement. And, all consumers share in the costs (if they exist) to reach that renewable power generation level, just as they share in the benefits (such as reduced pollution and economic development).

Why do we care?

The RPS provides a path for creating an upwards — guaranteed — glide slope of demand for renewable power generation.  A nationwide RPS (even if inadequate at 15% by 2020) would help to foster this upward path of ever increasing renewable power generation.

Currently, polluters have a free ride. It is the Tragedy of the Commons, there is no current path where fossil-fuel power generators pay for the greater damage they create. It is in the common good to increase renewable power generation, but right now that increase relies too much on the good will of individuals (who buy green power or invest in renewables on their own homes) rather than sharing the costs, risks, benefits, and rewards over a larger base.

Truth be told, in the long term (cost to own), the RPS will lead to a far less expensive electrical system (with lowered fuel costs, reduced health impact, more economic activity surrounding renewable power) but it is the hurdle cost of the cost to buy (that capital investment in wind turbines, for example) that too often keeps us from enough investment in renewables.

For a short presentation re RPS from a business/financial perspective, see this slide show from the Regulatory Assistance Project.

So, if they’re so good, why don’t we have them?

Actually, many of us do (much of US does) have RPS.  As of Feb 2007, 23 states had Renewable Power Standards.  The RPS numbers can be somewhat confusing, for example, New York’s RPS requires 24 percent renewable power by 2013. That sounds quite impressive until realization sets in that this counts the 19% of New York’s electricity that currently comes from existing hydro-electric dams.  Hmmm … Well, five percent new renewables is a nice, but not overwhelming aggressive, target.  In any event, the 23 states have RPS standards for the 2020 that range from 10% (Delaware, 2019) to 25% (Minnesota, 2025).

The benefit of this legislation: the other 27 states (plus territories). And, it would set a minimum bar which we could then work to improve.  (After all, Governor Richardson has called for 30% by 2020 RPS, nationwide, as part of his call for an Energy Revolution.)

Is this going to be hard to achieve?

As mentioned, this is not a stringent or particularly tough goal. The 20% should be easily achievable, but it provides a path for encouraging continued movement toward renewable power generation.  From a comment by retrograde:

Such an achieveable target. Just look a few European nations that very recently got into wind power, and see how they are doing:

Electricity production from
Non-hydro renewables
Nation 2000 2006
Spain 2.2% 9.9%
Portugal 0.5% 7.9%
Ireland 1.1% 6.6%

And the USA? 2.2% in 2000, which dropped to 1.0% by 2006 due to decomissioning of some geothermal. I think 20% from wind alone would make a great 2020 target.

Call your Representatives. Call other politicians. Use resources like the Green Power Network to find how, for just a cent or two more per kWh, you can buy green power yourself.

Measuring per person, the top ten nations for electricity generation from wind are all in Europe. The rest of us have major catching up to do.

IN OTHER WORDS, this is a good thing.  A real step forward that has meaning on many fronts. A path to help Energize America (though we call for 20% by 2020).  Send your Senators a note to urge them to support a minimum of a 20 percent RPS by 2020 … How about this as a draft letter: draft letter you will find there:

There is no question that America can break our dependence on dirty, dangerous fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy. We can supply power to millions of homes and businesses by harnessing homegrown energy from the sun, wind, crops and more.

But with global warming threatening our future, energy prices surging, and war raging in the Middle East, we need leaders in Congress to take action.

I urge you to support legislation to require that utilities generate at least 20 percent of America’s electricity from renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, geothermal, ocean and biomass power by 2020.

For my own letter, I added:

While I would prefer an RPS of 30% by 2020, this 20 percent national standard would help move the nation forward to a more prosperous and sustainable energy future. Please ensure the standard only counts new renewable power sources and not already existing renewable power (like the 70 year old Hoover Dam). This is something that all Americans should embrace.

Finally, the CAFE standard.  Please support a 35 mpg CAFE for 2020. While, again, I would like to see a more ambitious target, the 35 mpg CAFE will send a signal that America is starting to address our serious energy challenges.

It is time to act to secure this nation’s future. These two measures will help do that.

Write your Representative … NOW!!! Call them Tuesday.  Help me, Saturday at the Energize America panel, celebrate a House passage of a meaningful RPS and our contribution to that victory for a sensible energy future.

Energy Efficiency combines with Renewable Power as our path toward shutting down coal and GHG-emitting electricity as soon as possible.  Electricity is responsible for a third of US GHG emissions. As the new renewable power should displace polluting sources, the RPS would represent a real silver BB in our path toward a sustainable energy future.

Another path, check out this video from the American Wind Energy Association

This video urges you to go to Power of Wind (an AWEA sponsored site). (Lots of good wind info there and activism options re wind.)

Unhappy with an industry-sponsored move, check out the MoveOn’s Clean Energy Petition.

Or, write your Representative directly via Congress.ORG, calling on them to support the RPS and the Udall-Platts Amendment (HR969).

I don’t care how you do it. JUST DO IT!  Add you voice to those calling for a sustainable energy future. TODAY! And, let us celebrate success together in Chicago!

Ask yourself:  Are you doing
your part to

ENERGIZE AMERICA?

Are you ready
  to do your part?

Your voice can
… and will make a difference.

So … SPEAK UP … NOW!!!

One response to “Act NOW to change America:

  1. Pingback: Where’s the fight for renewable power? « Energy Smart

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