April, 2009 | Posted by: Ry
It's been a long time coming, and still has a ways to go, but the first draft of legislation that would create the first ever set of federal requirements to boost energy efficiency, has been released by House Democrats. While there are certainly going to be critics (from both sides of the camp), the bottom line is that this legislation will induce the change needed on a Federal level to curb greenhouse gas emissions and drastically increase energy production from renewable sources.
In terms of curbing greenhouse gas emissions, most notably those produced by coal, the draft calls for a $10 billion fund to develop new technologies for capturing and storing carbon dioxide, as well as incentives for coal-based energy producers who operate more efficiently than overseas companies. Also, new coal-fired power plants are limited to releasing 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour by the year 2015 - almost a 50% decrease from what is allowed under current legislation.
The other major component of the coal provisions, which many analysts speculate could be the deal-breaker with Republicans, is the Cap-and-trade program set forth. Under this plan, companies would be allowed to buy and sell allowances and to invest in other renewable energy projects to obtain offsets and meet mandates. These mandates call for a 3% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012, 20% decrease by 2020, 42% decrease by 2030 and an 83% decrease by the year 2050.
In terms of renewable energy, the draft legislation will require retail electricity suppliers (your local utility company that is) to produce/supply at least 6% of its energy from renewable sources like wind, solar, geothermal and biomass by 2012. And by 2025 (the year that Hillary's term will be up...wink, wink), this figure will be mandated at 25%.
And although there is worry and concern being projected by the Edison Electric Institute (which represents 70% of the U.S. electricity sector) that these figures can't be reached while saving on costs, there is hope and optimism that it can be done, or as House Representative, Edward J. Markey, said, "...a newfound sense of possibility."