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RPS measure diluted in US House Bill

Renewable energy advocates in the USA were disappointed with the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) included in legislation passed by a key House committee on 21 May.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee by a vote of 33-25 set an RPS standard at 6 per cent starting in 2012 and rising to 20 per cent in 2020, where it would be capped. But that 20 percent could include greenhouse gas savings due to electric efficiency measures, bringing the renewable requirement to 12 per cent by 2020. Groups such as the American Wind Energy Association had pushed Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the committee, to raise the RPS to 25 per cent by 2025, a position favoured by President Barack Obama.

The RPS provisions in the broader Climate Change Bill were an acknowledgement by Waxman of political realities. To get the Bill through committee and ostensibly the House, he had to bring Midwestern Democrats from southern fuel producing, Midwestern manufacturing and Eastern coal-producing districts into the fold. That required compromises, which have already been echoed on the Senate side where Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has had trouble convincing Democrats on his committee to support any RPS standard. Bingaman has had to back down to a 15 per cent RPS, and even there he has faced skepticism from some party counterparts.

Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leaders, says he is going to wait for the full House to approve the Waxman bill before taking up the issue in the Senate. House leaders have promised a vote as early as this summer.

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