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The CLEAN Future Act Part 1: Introduction and the Power Sector

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The CLEAN Future Act: Introduction and the Power Sector

In the world of renewable energy, 2050 is the agreed upon goal for the date at which atmospheric carbon should be down to pre-Industrial Revolution levels. While the rest of the world is already underway with plans to reach that goal, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in Washington D.C. is working to pass a 2050 bill of their own: the CLEAN Future Act.

What is The CLEAN Future Act?

The Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act, introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives on March 2 earlier this year, is a bill that aims for the U.S. to become a 100% carbon-free economy by 2050. An interim goal of this bill is to reduce gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030.

This bill was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Frank Pallone, Jr., along with subcommittee chairs Bobby Rush and Paul Tonko; It is an updated draft of a discussion from last year based on multiple hearings from experts and activists during the changing political climate.

The climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime, but it also presents one of the greatest opportunities to empower American workers with new, good paying jobs and return our economy to a position of strength after a long, dark year of historic job losses and pain,” said Pallone. “Today’s introduction of the CLEAN Future Act promises that we will not stand idly by as the rest of the world transitions to clean economies and our workers get left behind, and that we will not watch from the sidelines as the climate crisis wreaks havoc on Americans’ health and homes. 

This legislation will create millions of homegrown jobs in a climate-resilient economy, ensuring our workers and businesses can compete in the 21st century transition to clean technology that’s already happening.”

Today, we reiterate our commitment to bold and urgent federal climate action. The CLEAN Future Act will ensure America realizes the opportunities that come from embracing and accelerating the clean energy transition,” said Tonko. “It invests in the industry and ingenuity of our people and will launch America’s next great chapter of sustainable prosperity and real economic and environmental justice. I’m proud to stand with Chairman Frank Pallone and Chairman Bobby Rush. We will continue fighting to get ambitious climate legislation signed into law and jumpstart America’s clean energy economy.”

Through today’s introduction of the CLEAN Future Act, the Committee on Energy and Commerce is assuming its vital role in combating the growing climate crisis and accelerating federal action to meet the challenge head-on this decade,” said Rush. “Through policies that will create millions of new, good paying jobs and reduce pollution in historically overburdened communities, this legislation drives our country further down the path toward a much-needed clean energy transition – and does so with equity and social justice at its center.”

  • Paul Tonko, Frank Pallone, Jr., Bobby Rush (energycommerce.house.gov)

What does the CLEAN Act do for the Power Sector?

Did you know that buildings in the U.S. account about 40% of the country’s energy? (https://www.ase.org/categories/buildings)

Unfortunately, it’s true.

However, the CLEAN Act aims to fix this by having “a low-carbon electricity system will be key to reducing emissions in other segments of the economy, including the industrial, transportation, and buildings sectors. Electrification of those other sectors has the potential to dramatically reduce emissions, but only if the electricity is sourced from a low-carbon power sector.” (Clean Future Act Memo)

The act also proposes a Clean Energy Standard (CES) that will require retail electricity suppliers, like AEP Energy, 4Change Energy, and Beyond Power to name a few, to only receive their energy from 100% clean energy sources.

  • CLEAN defines “clean energy” as electricity that comes from facilities that output an annual carbon density that’s lower than .8 metric tons of CO2 per MWh (megawatt per hour).

After that, the CES expects retail electricity suppliers to supply the clean electricity to customers next year in 2022 or make an alternative compliance payment (ACP), which is if a supplier fails to meet their state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) or regulation that requires them to increase the use of renewable energy sources. This also includes reforming the energy markets, starting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Like ERCOT, the CLEAN Future Act calls for retail choice for clean energy. The Act also charges FERC to take climate change more seriously by ignoring and denouncing climate change deniers and increases funding for the energy grids across the country and funding for the DOE to assist Native American communities. Pallone, Jr., Rush, and Tonko also call for modernizing the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA) that ensures states will consider having energy storage systems.

While the Act proposes expanding clean energy throughout the country, it also calls for a strategic transformer reserve in case an event like ERCOT’s failure earlier this year would happen again.

Why does the U.S. need better infrastructure in the power sector?

Outlined from the picture above, there is so much potential for how the U.S. can reinvent its energy production and consumption. Nuclear and natural gas are viable substitutes for coal and fossil fuels, but they aren’t renewable, which means they can’t be replenished like wind, solar, or wind can. The U.S., for decades, has depended on fossil fuels to carry its infrastructure while not considering how it could affect the environment. Now, the issue of climate change is becoming more widely accepted as the rest of the world are making plans to become carbon neutral.

It’ll only be through combined efforts that the U.S. can finally become 100% carbon-free.

Clean energy is possible, but unfortunately, in this world of politics and lobbyists, it’ll take more than just a bill, it’ll take leaders that are passionate about cleaning the world for future generations to come.

Next week I’ll discuss the next section of the CLEAN Future Act, which will tackle the transportation industry and how the bill will work to amend it.

If you want to read more of the CLEAN Future Act Memo, check it out here!

https://www.circleofblue.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/CLEAN-Future-Act-Memo_01.08.20_FINAL.pdf

Here’s a few more links if you want to get a little background information:

https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/renewable-sources/portfolio-standards.php

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/reports/2019/10/10/475605/100-percent-clean-future/

https://www.ase.org/categories/buildings

https://energycommerce.house.gov/newsroom/press-releases/ec-leaders-introduce-the-clean-future-act-comprehensive-legislation-to

What did you take away from this week’s blog?

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