Congress Could Spur the Southeast’s Renewable Energy Use, Industry Says
Conventional wisdom has it that the Southeast has few opportunities to develop renewable energy. But renewable energy industry groups are touting a study they say shows Southeastern states will benefit from a renewable energy standard, which they are pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to include in his energy bill.
The report comes from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University and finds that “the South could generate 20-30% of its electricity from renewable energy sources within the next 20 years — up from less than 4% today — if strong federal policies are enacted,” according to a press release from Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.
The effort to draw attention to the report is part of a broad lobbying effort by the renewable energy industry to pass an RES. Industry groups are specifically calling for passage of the RES included in Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s (D-N.M.) energy bill, which requires that 15 percent of the country’s electricity come from renewable sources like solar and wind. While the Bingaman RES is considered too weak by many in the industry, they see its passage as a necessary first step to eventually strengthening the standard.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to release a scaled-down energy and oil spill response bill later today, but it’s unlikely that the bill will include an RES. Reid has said that a renewable mandate does not have the 60 votes necessary to pass, despite recent calls by 27 Democrats and at least one Republican to include the provision in his bill.