Decarbonizing ElectricityThe U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis is requesting information around policies that Congress should adopt to solve the climate crisis and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Committee staff told us they would welcome feedback from OEP experts. Four specific questions from the committee’s request for information are outlined below. We will compile and send to the committee substantive comments posted to this discussion by November 11.

 


 

U.S. electricity generation from wind power is more than 7 times higher today than it was in 2017, and U.S. solar power generation is 100 times higher today than it was in 2009. However, annual carbon dioxide emissions have only decreased by 12% in this time frame, leaving a long way to go to reduce carbon dioxide emissions dramatically.

To accelerate the transition to a decarbonized economy, U.S. senators and congressmen have introduced dozens of bills this year. Among these bills is the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2019, which would institute a national standard requiring a certain percentage of a utility’s sales to come from clean energy technologies and establish a credit trading market for retail electricity sellers. Nearly three-quarters of U.S. states have adopted either a mandatory or a voluntary renewable portfolio standard, and these standards have been effective in increasing deployment of renewable energy.

Several other bills focus on driving down greenhouse gas emissions by factoring in the social cost of carbon to the price of energy. Three of these bills, which differ on how carbon tax revenues would be used, are the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act; the Climate Action Rebate Act; and the Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act of 2019. Policymakers disagree as to what extent a carbon tax should be layered with other policies.

Even with a policy to encourage the use of renewables and other zero-carbon energy, other challenges remain, such as insufficient transmission lines. The best sites for utility-scale wind and solar power are often not near population centers and require new interstate transmission lines that can connect renewable energy to the grid. This challenge and others will need to be addressed as the energy transition moves forward.

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