Impact of a Federal Renewable Electricity Mandate

Policymakers have proposed a nationwide renewable electricity mandate. At first blush, achieving the goal—15 percent renewable electricity by 2021– might not appear too difficult. But the sources of electricity that the federal government wants to consider as “renewable” doesn’t match the common definition of renewable. For example, existing large hydroelectric dams do not count as “renewable” under the federal definition.

The graphic below compares renewable electricity generation (as commonly defined) to the electricity generation that would count as “renewable” under the nationwide renewable electricity mandate in the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010, S. 3813.

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Current Renewable Electricity Output
“Renewable” Electricity Output Under Federal REM

Data Source: Energy Information Administration, Energy Information Administration, 2009: EIA-923 January – December Final, Nonutility Energy Balance and Annual Environmental Information Data Renewable energy in EIA-923 is defined in the above url, sheet 3, and on p. 31 of Form EIA-860,  As defined by S. 3813, the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010, existing hydroelectric power and pumped storage (WAT) generation are excluded because they do not count as renewable energy under the renewable electricity standard. The renewable share is determined as the total amount of qualified renewable energy for the state divided by the base quantity of electricity defined in S. 3813. See for the full text of the bill.

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