A federal Clean Energy Standard has been proposed as a policy approach to help meet climate change goals. The Biden Administration and some members of Congress are seeking to include it in budget reconciliation, and three variations of the policy have been introduced in Congress.
The policy seeks to drive electric power generation to net-zero carbon emissions by requiring utilities to include more clean energy over time. Standards like this already exist in 30 states as
renewable portfolio standards. Because of the similarities, many policy analysts believe a federal clean energy standard would be easy to implement. It would also incentivize clean power development and help the U.S. reach climate goals. However, other analysts and policymakers are concerned that current clean energy standard targets (such as the Biden Administration’s proposed 100% by 2035 and 80% by 2030 zero-emission goals) are not technologically feasible, that a federal standard would be difficult to harmonize with state level standards, and that it would lead to less cost-efficient outcomes than a carbon tax.
OurEnergyPolicy hosted a webinar on clean energy standards on July 28, 2021, with opening remarks from Senator Tina Smith (D-MN). Senator Smith observed that including a clean energy standard in the budget reconciliation process has strengthened the concept by making it more investment and budget-based. Panelists weighed in with how to define “clean energy,” how a CES can be implemented (including their thoughts on proposed legislation), and how to reconcile differences between federal and state policies. Panelists said some form of carbon price would be a better method of addressing emissions but that a CES would still be worthwhile.
OurEnergyPolicy’s July 28, 2021 Webinar – Proposed Federal Clean Energy Standards