Renewable Electricity Standard Act of 2019 (S. 1974, 116th Congress)

Policy Details

Policy Details

Originating Entity
Last Action
Introduced in Senate
Date of Last Action
Jun 26 2019
Congressional Session
Date Introduced
Jun 26 2019
Publication Date
Jun 27 2019
Date Made Public
Jun 26 2019

SciPol Summary

On June 26, 2019, Senator Tom Udal (D-NM) (re)introduced the Renewable Electricity Standard Act of 2019, which creates a mechanism to push the share of United States electric power produced by renwable sources to 50% by 2035. (Senator Udall first introduced the bill in 2015.) Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Angus King (I-ME) co-sponsored the bill. 

The bill, which would amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), would require large utilities to increase their renewable generation by a gradually increasing 1.5%-2.5% through 2035, and smaller utilities to increase their renewable generation at half that rate. The bill's sponsors note that "[b]y requiring utilities in every state to increase their share of renewables at or above the federal floor and excluding existing renewable generation," it ensures that "no state is at a disadvantage because of where they are starting from."

In the absence of a national renwable standard, 35 states and the District of Columbia have adopted their own renewable standards. This has helped increase the share of electricity produced in the US by renewable sources to over 17%. (Another 20% of our electric power is carbon-free nuclear power, a percentage that will likely hold steady or decline over the next few decades.) However, only 11 states have renewable portfolio standards that meet or exceed the 50% by 2035 goal proposed in the Act, which aims to double the current pace of change in our electricity sector so as to meet the recommendations of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

The bill would allow states with renewable energy standards at or above the bill's minimum 50%  standard to opt out, as well as states that already get at least 60% of their power from renewables.  The Department of Energy would be in charge of ensuring compliance with the bill's requirements. 

Finally, the bill would require the Secretary of Energy to submit a plan to Congress for how to change the program after 2035 to achieve full de-carbonization of the electric power sector by 2050.

Multiple renwable energy, science, and environmental groups have endorsed the bill, including the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the Environmental Working Group, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Sierra Club, and the Wilderness Society.



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