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Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress released the report “Helping America Win the Clean Energy Race: Innovating to Meet the President’s Goal of 80 Percent Clean Electricity by 2035,” by Richard W. Caperton, Kate Gordon, Bracken Hendricks, and Daniel J. Weiss, introducing five “design principles” that are essential for ensuring that a clean energy standard speeds the coming transformation of our nation’s electricity grid to a truly sustainable mix of clean, efficient, and renewable energy, while realizing the jobs and economic promise of these emerging industries. The report also outlines nine key milestones that should shape the design and development of a specific clean energy standard.
President Barack Obama challenged Americans to put our innovative spirit and entrepreneurial prowess to the test, asking us to fuel the engine of our economic recovery with a new generation of clean energy resources with the power to create jobs in U.S.-based industries, launch new businesses, and rewire our cities and rural communities with cutting edge technology and state-of-the-art infrastructure. Encapsulating this challenge is President Obama’s call for a “clean energy standard” to produce 80 percent of our nation’s electricity from cleaner energy sources by 2035.
Dramatically increasing the certainty and transparency of market demand for innovative, clean, and efficient technology is the first and most important step in ensuring that the U.S. remains a major player in these rapidly growing global markets. Without clear market signals here at home, domestic investment in clean tech will falter and we will cede potential American jobs and businesses to our global competitors. The sooner we make a commitment to build a domestic clean energy market, the sooner American innovation, entrepreneurship, venture capital, and advanced manufacturing skills can be fully unleashed; that will be needed to ensure early leadership.
Setting a clear and stable goal is essential to organize the American clean energy market, and focus capital investors firmly on innovation. For this reason, the Center for American Progress applauds the president’s call for an 80-percent clean energy standard by 2035. In embracing this agenda, however, we emphasize that it is essential that such a policy builds a strong market for innovative clean energy technologies in order to foster the rapid expansion of the emerging American clean-tech industry. First and foremost, that requires a specific target to ensure the growth of our cleanest electricity resources including energy efficiency, and wind, solar, geothermal, and other truly renewable electricity sources.
For that reason, the reports also recommends that an 80-percent clean energy standard include a requirement that 35 percent of America’s energy needs will be met by truly renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2035. This internal goal of “35 by ‘35” within the clean energy standard, will ensure the growth of strong markets for technologies such as wind, solar, sustainable biomass, incremental hydroelectric power, and geothermal energy, as well as the most effective solutions for reducing energy demand though energy efficiency. CAP believes strongly that such a target is essential for a strong and effective clean energy standard.
This paper discusses five “design principles” that are essential for ensuring that a clean energy standard speeds the coming transformation of our nation’s electricity grid to a truly sustainable mix of clean, efficient, and renewable energy, while realizing the jobs and economic promise of these emerging industries. As Congress and the Obama administration work to craft effective clean energy legislation they should ensure that any standard meets the following core principles:
- It must generate new, long-lasting jobs and grow the economy
- It must effectively spur development and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies
- It must account for regional diversity in resources and electricity markets
- It must be simple and transparent, and minimize costs
- It must provide a floor not a ceiling for clean energy, strengthening and building on existing state leadership
To put these design principles into practice we will later in this paper introduce nine key milestones that should shape the design and development of a specific clean energy standard. If we meet the challenge of passing an effective clean energy policy for the nation, we can create jobs in American industries even as we cut bills for homeowners, safeguard public health and the environment, and improve our national and economic security.
Richard W. Caperton is a Policy Analyst with the Energy Opportunity team at the Center for American Progress; Kate Gordon is Vice President for Energy Policy at the Center; Bracken Hendricks is a Senior Fellow at the Center; and Daniel J. Weiss is a Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center.
If you would like to speak to Richard W. Caperton, Kate Gordon, Bracken Hendricks or Daniel J. Weiss, please contact Christina DiPasquale at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.481.8181.