HOUSTON - A new bill filed today by Senator Tom Udall and others will put the U.S. on track for at least 50 percent renewable electricity nationwide by 2035. The Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) Act of 2019 requires all states to steadily increase their use of renewable sources like wind and solar each year. It builds on the wave of ambitious renewable energy policies in the states and is designed to ensure that renewable energy advances in every state.
“We need to put America on a path to a clean energy transition on a scale that matches the size of our environmental challenges,” said Jen Schmerling, deputy director of Environment Texas. “This bill will provide a major boost by laying the foundation for renewable energy progress everywhere.”
The bill would establish a floor for existing renewable sources in every state and require each state to add new renewable electricity generation by 1.5 percent in 2020, 2 percent each year through 2029 and then 2.5% each year through 2035. According recently modeling, it is projected to get the U.S to at least 50 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and put the nation on track to get at least 80% of its power from renewable energy sources by mid-century.
Ambitious state renewable energy programs have surged nationally over the past five years. In 2015, Hawaii started this trend by establishing a goal to use 100 percent clean energy by 2045. Since then, California, New Mexico, Washington, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have all made similar commitments. In the past 18 months, many other states, including Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York have adopted major increases of their renewable electricity standards. Here in Texas, the cities of Georgetown and Denton, as well as the GM corporation, have plans to power themselves with 100% renewable energy.
This bill comes at a time when Texas is well-positioned to ramp up renewable energy. Solar electricity production in the state has increased 385-fold since 2008 and wind energy production four-fold, according to a 2018 report by Environment Texas Research and Policy Center and Frontier Group. Texas also played a leading role in helping the nation surpass two million solar panel installations in May of this year, according to data from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). While it took decades to reach one million in 2016, the second million took just three years.
"As more states like Texas recognize the environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy, they are adopting programs to meet ambitious targets," Schmerling said. “By requiring every state and utility to add new renewable resources each year, this bill will ensure clean energy progress in every corner of America.”
Environment Texas is a non-profit advocate for clean air, clean water and open spaces.