Two Alternative Energy Bills Proposed in Congress


The march toward a national power grid that is increasingly supplied by alternative energy continues, as two new bills were proposed in Congress in May. Both proposals, sponsored by Democratic legislators, aim to expand the parameters for alternative energy – including biomass – while creating a new standard for energy production.

Udall Introduces National Renewable Electricity Standard

In the Senate, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced S. 1264, which calls for the creation of a national renewable electricity standard (RES). The standard – which would be the most impactful standard yet proposed in Congress – would require all utilities to derive 30 percent of their electricity from alternative energy sources by 2030.

Six Democratic senators have co-sponsored the agreement so far, which would call for 30 percent of electricity to be generated from solar, wind, landfill gas, biomass, ocean, geothermal, tidal, incremental hydropower or hydrokinetic. This would be the first such national standard, and would phase in the adoption gradually, starting with 7.5 percent this year and increasing until the full standard is met in 2030.

Analysis provided by the senator’s office suggests that the bill would save $25.1 billion in consumer energy expenditures, while providing for $295 billion in new capital investments.

Wyden Introduces New Biomass Bill

Another senator, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), has introduced a bill that would further enable the biomass industry by creating a cost-share grant program with the U.S. Department of Energy to promote biomass production and transportation.

Specifically, the bill would seek to develop technologies to dry and press woody biomass, which would not only increase fuel quality, but would also improve cross-country transportation of biomass. It would also help reduce forest overcrowding that can lead to dangerous and destructive forest fires. More research and coordination within the industry would be enabled by the bill, which could also create jobs in states like Oregon with a significant and growing biomass industry.