Making the case for RES one more time, with gusto By Chris Madison

Just hours before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was scheduled to release his energy bill, reportedly minus a renewable electricity standard (RES), wind power advocates and other renewable champions held a press conference to announce that there are 60 votes in the Senate for that elusive RES.

The pronouncement flew in the face of Reid’s weekend pronouncement that the RES was not going to be in his bill because it lacked the votes (60) needed to beat a filibuster. But Reid’s closing of the door on RES did not stop the advocates from banging loudly and incessantly.

In another development later in the day, Republican Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) issued a statement in support of an RES modeled after the provisions of the legislation adopted last summer by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

He said, “a moderate RES would be an important step towards a cleaner energy future, but without the job-killing provisions that come with cap and tax."

“If you are serious about green power jobs creation, you have to set a goal” (i.e., enact an RES) said Iowa Gov. Chet Culver. Culver joined former Senator Tom Daschle, CEO Lewis Hay III of Next Era Energy, AWEA CEO Denise Bode and Karlisa Parker, Economic Development Director, Chester County, S.C. at the press conference.

Iowa has seen tremendous growth in wind energy and wind energy jobs since adopting a state RES, and will soon be an exporter of electricity generated with wind energy, said Culver. Neighboring states without an RES have not seen those gains, he said.

Next Era’s Hay said his company would invest more in renewable energy with the right policies. A strong RES, he estimated, would bring investment in solar and wind energy that would create 40,000 jobs over five years. Without a national RES, he said, the United States “is in danger of losing the clean energy race.”

AWEA’s Bode noted that, so far, 2010 is looking grim for the wind industry, compared to 2009. She said investors are pulling back because they don’t see the White House or Congress making a long-tem commitment to renewable energy.

Daschle, who is serving as a strategic advisor to AWEA, said “The votes are there for an RES.” If an RES is not included in the bill unveiled by Reid, Daschle said it would likely be offered as an amendment…The time to act is now.”

Sen. Brownback Supports Renewable Energy Standard

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kans., issued the following press release today:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Sam Brownback called for bipartisan support in the Senate to include the renewable energy standard title from the American Clean Energy and Leadership Act of 2009, which was reported out the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last summer, in upcoming energy legislation.

“As we begin consideration of comprehensive energy legislation, it’s essential we include ideas that will help drive our national energy production in the direction of more clean, renewable energy,” stated Brownback. “The RES title passed out of the Energy Committee requires by 2020 that 15% of our country’s energy be produced using agreed upon forms of renewable energy, such as wind, solar, and biomass. Under this proposal, utilities are allowed to meet up to 4% of the requirement through energy efficiency.

“I think it was wise that Senate leadership decided against including any form of cap and tax in the proposal. With unemployment still hovering close to 10%, the American people have no appetite for legislation that would hurt our economy, while doing little to reduce global temperatures. I would argue that most Americans believe that in addressing any challenge, it’s necessary to adopt a balanced, pragmatic strategy. In this case, a moderate RES would be an important step towards a cleaner energy future, but without the job-killing provisions that come with cap and tax.”

Brownback is the Ranking Member of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Following Brownback’s statement, AWEA CEO Denise Bode said, “Senator Brownback’s press release is further demonstration of the bipartisan support that exists for the national Renewable Electricity Standard."

By Chris Madison,