A Real Chance for Renewable Energy

The idea has been passed by the Senate numerous times. The House has passed it again and again, too. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have setup versions of it, and yet, a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) still isn't on the books at the national level.

This Congress, I hope we can change that.

My cousin, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado and I just re-introduced our legislation for a federal RES requiring utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2025.

New Mexico has led the way with a 20 percent standard for 2021. As a result, we are seeing increases in both renewable electricity generation and manufacturing across our state.

Our approach is an incremental one that wouldn't preempt states with stronger standards. By 2013, we'd require 6 percent of electricity from renewable resources. Followed by gradual increases, we can reach our goal of 25 percent by 2025.

Balancing our energy portfolio is a real chance to reduce energy bills, revitalize rural America, slow global warming and strengthen our energy security.

Wind and solar energy are likely to be among the largest sources of new manufacturing jobs worldwide during the 21st Century. A Navigant Consulting study found that an RES would create over a quarter of a million new American jobs:

A 25% by 2025 national RES would result in 274,000 more jobs supported by the renewable electricity industry than without a national RES. This is equivalent to 2.36 million additional job-years.

And the benefits go on. Lower natural gas and electricity prices would save American consumers more than $100 billion. In rural areas, farmers can get around $3,000 and up per wind turbine per year, helping to offset losses from droughts or crop failures with "wind harvests." Ultimately, an RES would cut emissions of conventional pollutants and greenhouse gases, helping to slow global warming.

With an RES, we can spur American innovation and ingenuity and put our people to work in a thriving, clean energy economy.

States like New Mexico have lead the way on this issue. It's time for Congress to step up to the plate, set a national standard and start us down the path to a clean energy future.