It’s no secret that the current administration is aiming for action against climate change, and Democrats from the House of Representatives recently released early details on the Clean Electricity Program they hope to pass.
Lawmakers stated that the program will help transition the US electric grid to 80% clean energy by 2030. While at the same time creating millions of jobs and not increasing the price of electricity. And in some cases, even lowering it.
While the exact details are not final, the preliminary information is quite interesting.
What’s Inside the Clean Electricity Program?
At its core, the Clean Electricity Program is a series of incentives and fees that will reward utilities for using cleaner sources of energy, while punishing those that don’t with fines.
In terms of utilities, the government would provide grants and tax breaks to help incentivize them to gradually transition away from fossil fuels. Specifically, they must increase the amount of clean energy supplied by 4% compared to previous years to be eligible.
The program is expected to spend $150 billion over the course of its life. Utility incentives could be as high as $150 per megawatt above the previous year’s clean electricity.
Utilities that cannot meet these requirements will instead be forced to pay a fine to the Department of Energy.
So to sum it up, utilities that incorporate more clean energy into their portfolio can reap the benefits and those that fail to do so will have to pay a fine. While the deal will be far more complicated in its final form, the finer details will likely change.
What is Clean Energy Under This Program
The program currently defines clean energy as energy generation that does not produce more than 0.10 metric tons of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. There are currently no details that mention methane emissions.
By this definition, both coal and natural gas fail. The sources that would be considered clean energy include solar, wind, hydroelectric, and nuclear. It is also possible for fossil fuels to meet this definition if carbon capture technology is implemented.
This prevents any of the carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. The real question becomes if the technology costs more than the incentives provide.
Clean Energy Is the Key to Decarbination
The philosophy of this program is that clean electricity enables the rest of the economy to decarbonize.
For instance, with electricity, we can power electric cars (obvious I know). Yet, if the electricity that we use to do it comes from fossil fuel, it defeats the purpose of switching to an electric car in the first place.
And when you get down to it, electricity is the lifeblood of our modern society. Without it, almost nothing would work correctly or in most cases, at all.
Currently, electricity generation accounts for 25% of all greenhouse gas generation in the US with only transportation surpassing it. Reducing these emissions by 80% would have an enormous impact on the world.
Time is running out for the globe, and every country needs to start contributing to the solution instead of adding to the problems.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.