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US RPS eyed as Senate climate washout looms

26 Apr 2010 20:13 (+01:00 GMT)
US RPS eyed as Senate climate washout looms

New Orleans, 26 April (Argus) — Even as a bipartisan Senate coalition crumbles, there is widespread anticipation that a standalone energy bill would include a national renewable portfolio standard if it moves forward this year in the Seante, according to panelists at the Environmental Markets Summit today in New Orleans.

Climate legislation has been pushed back to 2011 at the earliest, said Tom Lewis, chief executive of the Green Exchange, but a renewable energy standard will likely be seen in an energy bill this year.

Chairman and founder of the Chicago Climate Exchange Richard Sandor agreed, saying he thinks something with an RPS could pass this year, but carbon would be pushed back until at least 2011 “unless there is some sort of miraculous intervention.”

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico) still wants to push through a standalone energy bill, much like he navigated through the Senate energy committee last year, said Mark Wilson, counsel with the International Emissions Trading Association. “He will try to strike a deal with [Sen. Harry] Reid (D-Nevada) to bring it to the floor,” Wilson said. But he cautioned that the RPS that Bingaman had proposed would likely not “help the [renewable energy certificate] markets,” because most of the state compliance standards are more stringent.

Frank Maisano, senior principal with law firm Bracewell and Guiliani, agreed, saying the fall out of the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill over the weekend “really kind of spoiled the pie” for pushing through climate legislation this year. But an energy-only bill is likely, he said. He expects to see the so-called “Home Star” program rolled into it, which provides incentives to home owners to weatherize their homes or otherwise make them more energy efficient. The RPS is expected to be modest enough that it will be “acceptable” even to senators that do not typically support such legislation, he said.

Maisano also cautioned about next week's announcement expected from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on the fate of Cape Wind, the offshore wind project off the coast of Massachusetts. The decisions could be a “major black eye or a major boost,” to the industry, he said.

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