Many ABG readers may know that the Senate is debating energy issues this week and next. I have snuck into the Senate chambers several times (via C-SPAN) to check on their progress.

As you know, electric vehicles keep appearing on ABG. Some have electricity generated on board only, but the trend is on plug-in hybrids or pure EVs. That means electric power has to be generated. How? Will it be clean or dirty? Will it be renewable like sun or wind or consumable, like coal or gas or nuclear? Will it be cheap or expensive?

The Senate created the Renewable Portfolio Standard in the 1990s to encourage utilities to use at least some renewables in their mix of energy sources. This has proven successful. The electric utilities have dipped their toes in the renewable marketplace and the states have encouraged this practice as well. Many (actually 23) have set goals for their regulated industries such as "20 by 20" – 20 percent generation using renewables by 2020.

Renewables are not, however, identically equal to clean energy, and not all states have sufficient wind or sun to make economic sense. Renewables can be dirty such as improper burning of wood. And clean fuel need not be renewable such as clean coal (burning coal with sequestration of CO2) or nuclear power (clean when being used but not clean when the fuel is expended.) Hence, some Senators have proposed a new standard focusing on clean, not renewable. Hence the new term "Clean Portfolio Standard" or CPS.


[Source: US Congress]

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