Energy policy over the last few years centered on cap and trade proposals to limit greenhouse gases and the concept of a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to incentivize renewable electricity sources. Congress is considering adding nuclear, natural gas and clean coal and renaming the effort a Clean Energy Standard (CES). Capturing this sentiment, the President laid out his goal of ensuring that 80 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from clean energy technologies by 2035. Many industries and technologies are looking at the CES as potential Federal policy that could benefit their business mission. Now, Congress is considering its next move as the Senate Energy & Natural Resources (ENR) Committee recently released a "white paper" requesting input from stakeholders as the first step to crafting legislation which would establish a CES.

The ENR Committee is the primary committee of jurisdiction over energy issues in the Senate, and its Members have weighed in on CES proposals in the past. The Committee's current bi-partisan effort, spearheaded by Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), asks all stakeholders and interested parties for responses to questions which will help inform the most appropriate design and structure for a CES. The Committee's questions cover a broad range of topics:

  • What are appropriate targets and thresholds?
  • Which technologies should be eligible under a CES?
  • What impact will a CES have on emerging technologies?
  • What are the key aspects of design and structure of a CES?
  • How will a national CES impact other state and national policies?

The Committee has posted its white paper as well as specific instructions on how to respond on its website. The deadline for responses is Monday, April 11, 2011, at 5:00 p.m. EST. The Committee intends to review information it receives as it considers drafting CES legislation.