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A recent American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) analysis of the House Energy Bill (H. R. 3221) Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) provision shows that the RES reduces electricity rates, avoids the need for conventional power plant construction and reduces carbon dioxide emissions. The House RES provision would require 15% of electricity sales to be provided through renewable sources by 2020.

According to the ACEEE analysis, part of these benefits stem from the RES allowance for energy efficiency to qualify for up to 27% of resource requirements. The analysis looked at more aggressive renewable and efficiency RES targets and examined RES policies against a climate policy framework. These scenarios showed even greater benefits from setting RES-type resource targets.

"This analysis dashes the notion that RES raises electricity rates," says Bill Prindle, policy director for ACEEE. "Our modeling shows that the RES reduces power prices, customer bills and capacity needs in all parts of the United States. Since renewable and efficiency resource standards also cut carbon emissions, they should be the cornerstones of U.S. energy and climate policy for the power sector."

Key findings from the analysis include:

- The House RES would in 2030 reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 121 million metric tons (MMT), save 22 billion kWh of electricity usage, create 41,000 net new jobs and displace a total of 16,000 MW of conventional power plant construction. This would save electricity customers $3.1 billion in 2030 and a cumulative $35 billion through 2030.

- A more aggressive set of renewable and efficiency standards, a 15% RES coupled with a separate 15% Energy-Efficiency Resource Standard, would produce even greater benefits. This 15-15 policy package would by 2030 avoid another 105,000 MW of new power plants, reduce electricity prices by up to $0.07 per kWh, save another 480 billion kWh of electricity usage per year, and reduce annual CO2 emissions by another 590 MMT per year. The 15-15 policy would also create another 166,000 net new jobs in 2030 beyond the House RES.

- In a climate policy scenario based on the Bingaman-Specter bill, ACEEE used [the IPM model] in similar fashion, finding that the House RES provision would save another 39,000 MW of power plant capacity, 223 billion kWh and 780 MMT of carbon emissions. The more aggressive 15-15 policy package would contribute another 98,000 MW of conventional power plant capacity avoidance, another 450 billion kWh in energy savings and another reduction of 260 MMT of CO2 emissions. 

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