May 17 2012
Opening Statement by Chairman Bingaman
“Good morning, and thank you for coming to this hearing on Senate bill 2146, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, a bill that I have introduced with a number of my colleagues. I think there are 11 of us on the bill. Here on the Energy Committee, I am happy to have Senators Wyden, Sanders, Mark Udall, Franken and Coons as cosponsors. Cosponsors off of the Committee include Senators Kerry, Whitehouse, Tom Udall, Feinstein and Merkley.
“The purpose of the Clean Energy Standard is to establish a national standard for electricity to make sure that we leverage the clean resources we have today and provide a continuing incentive to develop the cheaper, cleaner energy technologies of the future. By design, it would drive continued diversity in our sources of energy, and it would also allow every region to deploy clean energy using resources appropriate to that region. The Clean Energy Standard does this in a way that is intended to support home-grown innovation and manufacturing, and keep America competitive in the global clean energy economy.
“This is not the first Clean Energy Standard, and it certainly is not intended to be a partisan proposal. In the last Congress, during the discussion of a Renewable Electricity Standard in the Senate, several Senate Republicans publicly voiced their support for a more inclusive standard, such as a Clean Energy Standard, that would encompass all cleaner forms of electricity production, and not just renewable energy but other types as well, including nuclear power and hydropower and a variety of other options. At the beginning of this Congress, President Obama moved in that direction by calling for a proposal for a Clean Energy Standard in his 2011 State of the Union address. He endorsed that proposal again, and urged Congress to move ahead on something of this type, in this year’s State of the Union address.
“As part of the development process for the Clean Energy Standard, we received input from hundreds of stakeholder groups and citizens. The Energy Information Administration conducted a comprehensive set of policy analyses, and clean energy standard design was the topic of several academic workshops and industry meetings. And we tried to take all of this feedback and incorporate it into the proposal we are discussing today.
“The Clean Energy Standard will take all electricity generating technologies that exceed the carbon efficiency of the current state-of-the-art supercritical coal generation and award them credits scaled to their relative improvement in carbon intensity over that baseline. Zero-carbon sources such as new nuclear and renewables will get a full credit per kilowatt-hour produced. Advanced coal technologies, such as oxyfuel combustion, will get partial credit; natural gas will get about a half-credit, and so on.
“Utilities that sell electricity at retail will acquire and turn those credits in to meet a standard that, overall, will start off being fairly easy to meet. The standard, though, will become cleaner and more stringent over time. The result is intended to be a realistic and a predictable market-pull on advanced energy technologies. By having a long-term, predictable market for advanced electricity generation, the legislation is intended to provide innovators with confidence and the ability to make their best case to investors and project financiers.
“This proposal is only 25 pages in length. We believe it is simple and straightforward, but would have a transformative effect on the power sector. The Energy Information Administration projects that adopting the CES would drive substantial amounts of clean energy production across a diverse set of sources, including wind, solar, nuclear, biomass and natural gas. It would also drive enhanced energy efficiency, in particular in the industrial sector. EIA projects that it would reduce emissions from the power sector by 20 percent below their reference case in 2025, and by 44 percent in 2035. This mix of benefits has led to support for the legislation from a diverse group of stakeholders, several of whom we will be hearing from today.
“The discussion that we are having today on this policy proposal is an important one to have now, even in this difficult political environment. The challenges that the Clean Energy Standard seeks to address, and the ambitious goals that it is intended to achieve, are important ones for the country. If we really want energy innovation to flourish here at home, we need more predictable long-term policy signals. If there are better ideas for how we should to do that what we have proposed for a Clean Energy Standard, I hope that they can be proposed and discussed in concrete form here today as part of this hearing.”
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For more information, please contact
Bill Wicker at 202.224.5243
or Rosemarie Calabro at 202.224.5039
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