Senate Rejects Renewable Energy Proposal for Utilities

March 17, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

The US Senate rejected a proposal to require utilities to produce as much as a fifth of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. Another fuel requirement, calling for up to 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources, remained in a broad energy bill being debated by the Senate, but opponents said they would try to delete it next week.

A proposal by Senator James Jeffords that would require 20 percent of electricity to come from non-hydro renewable sources by 2020 was rejected 70-29 as critics called it too ambitious, unachievable and too expensive. Jeffords disputed claims that his proposal would result in higher electricity costs, stating that meeting the 20-percent requirement was "achievable, good for the economy and good for the environment."

Separately, the Senate agreed to let the industry regulate itself to ensure reliability of the power grids. By a 60-40 vote, it created a new industry organization on electricity reliability, rejecting a proposal to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission new authority over power grid reliability.