Skip to main content

Sen. Bingaman Announces Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) unveiled the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 today to steer the country in a direction of reducing overall carbon emissions. The bill aims for large power companies to begin increasing their electricity output from low-carbon sources like wind, solar, nuclear energy and natural gas by 2015, with the overall goal of producing 84 percent of their overall electricity from low-carbon sources by 2035.

The chairman explains:
“The goal of the CES is ambitious – a doubling of clean energy by 2035. But analysis has shown that the goal is also achievable and affordable. Meeting the CES will yield substantial benefits to our health, our economy, our global competitiveness and our economy,” Bingaman said.
A fact sheet on the bill says the CES will only apply to retail utilities, not small utilities, and will be measured by the number of credits given to generators of clean energy. In other words, the higher the number of credits a utility has, the less emissions per unit of electricity. The fact sheet says:
This flexible framework naturally allows a wide variety of sources (solar, wind, nuclear, natural gas, coal with carbon capture and storage, etc.) to be used to meet the standard; allows market forces to determine what the optimal mix of technologies and fuels should be; and makes it easy for new technologies to be incorporated.
Emission Free Sources 2009Each energy source, depending on its emissions, would receive varied levels of credits. For instance, Platts explains:
Under [Sen. Bingaman’s] proposal, electricity generated by zero-carbon sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and nuclear, would get full credits.
Whereas, Platts continues:
Electricity from coal-fired generation with carbon capture and storage or coal co-firing with biomass would receive partial credits if they emit fewer carbon emissions than 0.82 mt/megawatt-hour, the equivalent of new supercritical coal generation.
The Platts article also points out that the credits could be accumulated and banked indefinitely, or transferred, traded or sold through an Energy Department trading system that would be set up as part of the legislation.

Sen. Bingaman, who is retiring at the end of this Congress, acknowledged that it may be difficult to get the legislation through both houses of Congress and to the president’s desk during this session. However, the White House’s spokesman Clark Steven praised today’s announcement as a step in the right direction:
“As the president has said consistently, a CES will drive innovation and investment in a range of clean energy sources — including renewables like wind and solar as well as nuclear, efficient natural gas and clean coal. A CES will also help America remain a leader in the clean energy economy, with all the jobs that it will bring. We look forward to working with Congress as the bill moves forward.”
Several organizations today also publicly expressed similar views to the bill, including NextEra Energy’s Chairman and CEO Lew Hay:
“Senator Bingaman's bill provides the right incentives for the nation's electric utilities and equipment manufacturers to create good, high-paying jobs for American workers and for private capital to accelerate investment in innovative energy technologies. The bill's market-oriented standard would allow many different types of fuel sources to be competitive, while rewarding innovation, early action, efficiency and project execution.”
For more information on the CES, see the Senate committee’s website for links to the press release, bill text, two-page summary, and section-by-section summary.

Photo: Sources of Emission-Free Electricity in the United States (2010).


All utilities should produce at least 50% of their electricity from carbon neutral resources by 2020, IMO,(some US utilities already achieve this standard) and at least 90% by 2030 with a 15% sin tax on all energy produced by any utility that fails to reach these goals.

This would be a powerful incentive for companies to start investing and building carbon neutral electric power plants both nuclear and renewable.

Marcel F. William

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…