Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 12/09/2011

Potential Federal Legislation Setting a Clean Energy Standard?

A Clean Energy Standard (CES) is a policy that requires covered electricity retailers to supply a specified share of their electricity sales from qualifying clean energy resources.  Under a CES, electric generators would be granted clean energy credits for every megawatthour (MWh) of electricity they produce using qualifying energy sources.  Utilities serving retail customers would use some combination of credits granted to their own generation or credits acquired in trade from other generators to meet CES obligations.  Generators without retail customers or utilities that generate more clean energy credits than needed to cover their own obligations could sell CES credits to other companies.  Currently, there is no comprehensive federal statute setting a CES.  Some states have set their own CES, while others lag behind or are considering legislation to repeal their state CES.

On March 21, 2011, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and Senator Lisa Murkowski jointly issued a “White Paper on a Clean Energy Standard [CES].”  The purpose of the CES White Paper was “to lay out some of the key questions and potential design elements of a CES, in order to solicit input from a broad range of interested parties, to facilitate discussion, and to ascertain whether or not consensus can be achieved.” Apparently growing out of that discussion came “primary elements” of a national CES as it would introduced by Senator Bingaman (the “BCES”). To read about these elements, please visit a recent post on Taft's Environmental Law Insight Blog.

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