A Clean Energy Standard and the Voluntary Market

While Washington back-and-forths on a clean energy standard, let's not forget the voluntary market is what really gets renewables moving.
Mar 22, 2011 4:30 PM ET
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Center for Resource Solutions Blog

I spent some time last week in Washington D.C. meeting with staff in a number of Senate offices. I was there representing the Renewable Energy Markets Association (REMA), a trade association for renewable energy marketers, developers and suppliers focused on building and maintaining robust markets for renewable energy in the U.S. As reports of early-stage discussions regarding possible Clean Energy Standard (CES) legislation at the federal level have emerged, REMA wants to make sure that lawmakers understand the value and importance of the voluntary market for renewable energy.

A CES, as some have proposed, looks like it may be more widely politically palatable than the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) that had been discussed in the last Congress. The idea behind an RES is that it would require electric utilities in the U.S. to obtain a meaningful portion of their electricity from renewable resources, like wind, solar, biomass, etc. A CES, as preliminary public statements from the Obama administration and other lawmakers indicate, would focus less on the renewable nature of the energy source and more on its emissions profile. So low emissions energy sources like nuclear and even natural gas could be big components of a CES. Of course, renewables could still play in a CES due to their emissions profile (or lack thereof). At this point, it is so early in the conversation that trying to read the tea leaves is probably not a great use of time.

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About Center for Resource Solutions
Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) is a national nonprofit with global impact. CRS brings forth expert responses to climate change issues, with particular expertise in the interaction between cap-and-trade programs and the voluntary market for renewable energy. Its leadership through collaboration and environmental innovation builds policies and consumer-protection mechanisms in renewable energy, greenhouse gas reductions, and energy efficiency that foster healthy and sustained growth in national and international markets. For more information about its programs, including Green-e, visit www.resource-solutions.org and www.green-e.org.