National renewable portfolio standard includes hydroelectric power

Legislation submitted to Congress yesterday could establish a national renewable portfolio standard that includes hydroelectric power in its definition of clean energy.

Introduced by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act (officially Senate Bill 1627) would require utilities to obtain a minimum of 25% of their power from renewable sources by 2025.

Included in the bill's definition of "renewable" are hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.

Markey's office said 118 other nations already have national clean energy targets in place, and though 30 states and the District of Columbia already have mandatory renewable targets, America has yet to adopt a national standard.

The bill's provisions for hydroelectricity apply only to "qualified hydropower", which includes a number of stipulations.

From S.B. 1627:

SB 1627 Text

The renewable electricity requirement dictated by the legislation would begin at 6% in 2015 and increase gradually over the next decade. Utilities would also be issued one renewable electricity credit for each MWh of power produced from a renewable source, which could be sold, traded, submitted for compliance or banked for future use, Markey's office said.

S.B. 1627 could also be a boon for the economy.

According to data from Markey's office, the bill could create more than 400,000 jobs, spur US$200 billion in capital investments, and equal consumer savings of $90 billion through 2030.

"It’s past time to scale up our clean energy deployment and innovation," Markey said. "My legislation will put America into a new economic orbit, looking down on our competitors. I look forward to working on a bipartisan basis with my Senate colleague to pass this important legislation."

Markey's legislation is supported by a number of renewable energy advocate groups and trade organizations, including the National Hydropower Associaion.

The Senator introduced a similar proposal to the House in February 2009.

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