Legislators Dispute Renewable Fuels Standard

September 30, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

Disputes over whether power companies should be made to use renewable fuels to make electricity are complicating negotiations over a far-reaching energy bill. Fifty-three senators have urged that electric utilities be required to make at least 10% of their power from solar panels, wind turbines, biomass, geothermal energy and other non-hydro renewable sources.

The bill has been passed in the Senate, but a majority of the House (negotiators) are strongly opposed to it. Opponents hold that the renewable fuels requirement would penalize consumers in areas where renewable fuel sources are not easily available. Electric utilities have lobbied aggressively against the so-called "renewable fuels standard," which would require them to make 10% of their power from non-fossil, non-hydro energy. They argue that some utilities would find it hard to comply because of a shortage of renewable energy sources in some regions, leading to higher electricity costs. The industry maintains the issue should be left to states.