New Mexico‚Äôs two U.S. senators, Jeff Bingaman (D) and Tom Udall (D), along with Kansas senator Sam Brownback (R), recently introduced a new bill in the U.S. Senate that would create a national renewable electricity standard (RES). The bill, Bill S.3813, the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010, proposes amending the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to include a federal RES that would require electric utilities to obtain set percentages of base quantity of electricity (meaning the total quantity of electricity sold to electric consumers in a calendar year) from renewable energy or energy efficiency. In most cases, the proposed minimum annual percentages begin at 3 percent in 2012 and grow incrementally to the highest proposed level of 15 percent from 2021 through 2036. Renewable energy sources include solar, wind, and geothermal energy, biomass, landfill gas, qualified hydropower, marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy, incremental geothermal production, coal-mined methane, qualified waste-to-energy, and other renewable sources based on technology as determined through rulemaking.

States that already have a RES in place that is higher than the proposed RES, such as New Mexico, would not be affected by the bill, and utilities selling less than four million MWh per year would be exempt.

To be brought forward for consideration by Congress, the bill must obtain 60 cosponsors. As of publication, the bill had 23 cosponsors. Full text of the bill is online at http://senate.gov.