Udalls promote fed renewable-energy code

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and his New Mexico cousin, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, are trying once again to get Congress to pass a national renewable-energy standard similar to one in Colorado and other states.

The two Democrats want power utilities in the nation to get 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, requiring them to phase that in during the intervening time, starting with 6 percent by 2013.

The senators say having such a standard not only would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, it would create jobs in the nation, particularly in the West.

Mark Udall said having a national standard would help Colorado’s efforts to create more jobs in the renewable-energy industry.

“First, it helps Colorado’s renewable-energy companies sell the renewable power they create,” the Colorado senator said. “Second, it helps renewable-energy companies like Leitwind, the turbine arm of (Grand Junction-based) Leitner-Poma, sell equipment nationally.”

This isn’t the first time the two lawmakers tried to get a national standard through Congress. When the Udalls were in the U.S. House, they introduced a measure to set a standard in 2002, but they weren’t able to get it through that chamber until 2007. Both were elected to the Senate a year later.

“Americans want to put our nation on a path towards energy independence, and this bill is our best chance to get America running on homegrown energy while creating good jobs,” Tom Udall said. “Studies show that a federal (standard) would reduce energy bills, revitalize rural America, slow global warming and strengthen our energy security.”

Colorado voters approved their own renewable-energy standard in 2004, setting it at 10 percent by 2020. Because utilities in the state were quickly reaching that goal, the standard was raised to 30 percent. In 2007, New Mexico approved a 20 percent standard by 2020. Both states have a 10 percent by 2020 standard for rural electric cooperatives.

Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have some sort of renewable-energy standard, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Five other states have voluntary standards.

Earlier this month, two Washington, D.C.-based groups, American Tradition Partnership and American Tradition Institute, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Denver challenging Colorado’s renewable-energy standard.

The two groups, along with a Morrison businessman, said the standard violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The groups, which said renewable energy is neither clean nor cheap, claim the state interferes with interstate commerce and discriminates against other forms of energy.



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