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Wind Industry Ramps Up Energy Bill Lobbying

With the prospect dimming that the energy bill being cobbled together behind closed doors in the Senate will include a cap on carbon, the wind industry is ramping up its lobbying efforts this week to ensure that its priorities don’t get left behind in the rush to secure 60 votes.

I just got off the phone with Rob Gramlich, a senior vice president for policy at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the leading lobbying group for the U.S. wind industry. He says wind industry CEOs are preparing to lobby senators in the coming days to strengthen key provisions in climate and energy legislation that could benefit the industry.

AWEA is calling for an increase in the so-called renewable electricity standard (RES) included in various energy and climate proposals currently on the table. A federal RES would require that a certain percentage of the country’s electricity be produced from renewable sources like wind and solar.

Without the votes for an economy-wide cap on carbon emissions, an RES appears likely to be one of the central provisions in a climate and energy package, leaving liberal Democrats with the task of claiming victory on a bill that falls far short of their policy goals.

AWEA is working to increase the RES well above the requirement included in the energy bill passed by the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee last year, which calls for 15 percent of the nation’s electricity to come from renewables by 2021. The group is advocating for a proposal to increase the RES to 25 percent by 2025.

Gramlich says the group will be targeting farm-state Democrats and Republicans in wind-rich regions, dispatching the heads of number of major wind developers to lobby key senators.

“There are a number of swing vote members who could come onto the legislation, there are farm-state Republicans who support wind energy in particular,” Gramlich said, arguing that a higher RES could help get 60 votes for an energy and climate bill.

But Republicans are also calling for a so-called “diverse” energy standard that would allow nuclear energy and coal with carbon capture technology to count in the overall standard, a proposal that rankles many in the wind industry. Sen. Richard Lugar’s (R-Ind.) energy proposal includes such a standard.

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