Bipartisan Senate bill requires states and utilities to increase renewable power

Legislation builds on state efforts to replace fossil fuels with clean energy
For Immediate Release

A new bill filed last week by Senator Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) will put the U.S. on track to achieve at least 50 percent renewable electricity nationwide by 2035. The Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) Act of 2019, which requires all states to steadily increase their use of renewable sources like wind and solar each year builds on the wave of ambitious renewable energy policies in the states. 

“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 David Masur, PennEnvironment’s executive director. “This bill will provide a major boost by laying the foundation for renewable energy progress everywhere.”

Based on the guidelines laid out in the bill, it is projected to get the U.S to at least 50 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and put the nation on track to reach at least 80 percent renewable energy across all sectors 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. Here in Pennsylvania, 97 bipartisan state legislators are cosponsoring HB 1425 in the State House and SB 630 in the State Senate which would transition the Commonwealth to 100% renewable energy by 2050

Udall’s bill comes at a time when Pennsylvania is well-positioned to ramp up renewable energy. Our clean energy sector now employs over 90,000 Pennsylvanians and is adding jobs at a rate that is five times faster than the overall state employment growth rate. According to a 2018 report by PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center and Frontier Group, solar electricity production in the state has increased from just 2 GWh in 2008 to over 450 GWh in 2017. Wind energy production has also increased five-fold over this period.

Pennsylvania also played a leading role in helping the nation surpass two million solar panel installations in May, according to data from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). While it took decades to reach one million solar installations in 2016, the second million took just three years. 

“As more states like Pennsylvania recognize the environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy, they are adopting programs to meet ambitious targets,” Masur 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.” 

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PennEnvironment is a statewide environmental organization working to ensure clean air, clean water, and protecting Pennsylvania’s great natural heritage. For more information about this and other PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center projects, visit www.PennEnvironment.org