House Paves the Way for Clean Energy Future

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a huge boost to renewable electricity in the United States in a rare Saturday vote. The amendment, which passed 290-170, would require utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal by 2020. Utilities would be able to meet part of the requirement through energy efficiency.

Twenty-four states already have renewable electricity standards and several have strengthened those standards over the past few years. According to UCS analysis, developing a national market for renewable power will create jobs, increase farm income and lead to significant consumer savings on electricity bills.

Passage of the renewable electricity standard was a long time in the making. The US Senate had passed a 10 percent RPS three times since 2002—most recently in June 2005. This year, a vote on a renewable electricity standard was blocked during the Senate's energy bill debate.Representative Tom Udall (D-N.M.), the amendment's lead sponsor in the House called the vote "a great victory for the planet." Marchant Wentworth, UCS's legislative representative for clean energy said the bill "makes a down payment on reducing the threat of global warming."

The full energy bill passed by a vote of 241-172. Now a conference committee is slated to reconcile differences in each chamber's bill. Also at stake is a significant increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for cars and trucks in the Senate version of the bill.

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