It seems lately that Congress is nothing if not stuck. Polarization and partisan posturing has rendered the legislative branch inadequate in the face of the challenges the nation faces. Nonetheless, the Senate did manage to introduce the bipartisan Renewable Electricity Promotion Act requiring 15 percent of U.S. energy generation to come from renewable sources by 2021.
As Ecopolitology publisher Tim Hurst writes, getting anything passed in support of clean energy will be a good thing, even if out of the gate the bill mandates less renewable power--3 percent by 2013--than is currently generated. That's right, we've already met the 2013 targets. At least it's something (just don't mention global warming).
According to the most recent issue of Electric Power Monthly, issued by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, non-hyrdro sources of renewable energy, including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal, contributed 4.1 percent of U.S. power generation for the first six months of 2010. Add in hydro for another 6.8 percent.
The EIA also reports that power generation from solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal grew 13 percent in the first half of 2010 over the same period of 2009. Wind power increased by 21.4 percent, solar PV and thermal 16.4 percent, biomass 4.5 percent, and geothermal 0.8 percent.
So the initial 2013 target for the bill is already exceeded by 30 percent, and the 2016 target of 6 percent is well within reach - as should be 2021 target of 15 percent, if we get off our duffs and stop whining about renewable energy being too expensive or unfeasible. If America is a can-do country, it's time that we showed it. We'll just have to drag Congress along, kicking and screaming.
Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY campaign, sums it up well:
"Creating an RES framework and starting foundation is a worthy goal and the Senate bill should be supported for that reason. However, inasmuch as the near-term targets have already been surpassed and the longer-term targets are easily achievable, any criticism or opposition by those who might suggest the renewable electricity targets would be costly, unrealistic, or otherwise burdensome should be dismissed as being disingenuous at best.”