U.S. Senator to Press For 15% Renewable Power Target

U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman says he’ll introduce legislation tomorrow requiring utility companies to get as much as 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind turbines and solar panels.

“The votes are present in the Senate to pass a renewable electricity standard,” Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, said today in an e-mail.

Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he plans to introduce the renewable-power legislation with a bipartisan group of senators that includes Republicans Sam Brownback of Kansas and Susan Collins of Maine.

Bingaman’s committee approved an energy bill last year that included a renewable electricity standard of 15 percent by 2021. The legislation to be unveiled tomorrow has the same target, Bingaman’s spokesman, Bill Wicker, said in a telephone interview.

Earlier this year, Senate Democrats debated whether to wrap the committee’s energy bill into legislation that responded to the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in July the renewable electricity standard wouldn’t be part of the oil-spill bill because it couldn’t muster the 60 out of 100 votes that are often required to pass legislation through the Senate.

Reid Bill

Reid’s energy bill would eliminate the $75 million liability cap for oil spills, toughen offshore oil and gas drilling regulation, offer federal incentives for vehicles that run on natural gas and give rebates for energy-efficient home renovations.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, wanted the Senate to pass the oil-spill bill before lawmakers left Washington in early August for a monthlong break. He dropped plans for a vote after Republicans and some Democrats said it was too harsh on oil companies that didn’t cause the Gulf spill.

Jim Manley, Reid’s spokesman, declined to comment on Bingaman’s prediction that the renewable electricity standard has enough votes to pass the Senate.

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