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Bingaman still favors national renewable standard

Mar 27, 2024
Former Sen. Jeff Bingaman

Bingaman (second from right) at WIPP this week. Photo: Chuck McCutcheon/Axios

Former Senate ENR Chair Jeff Bingaman says an idea he championed in Congress — a national renewable portfolio standard — still has merit.

Why it matters: Advocates of a mandate for states to generate or procure a certain percentage of electricity from solar, wind or other renewable technologies say it would speed development of those sources.

What they're saying: A national RPS remains "conceivable," Bingaman said on the sidelines of an event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), an Energy Department repository in southeast New Mexico for waste generated by nuclear weapons plants.

  • "You have to have enough flexibility in it that you can take into account different circumstances with the states," the New Mexico Democrat said. "Obviously the idea to do something significant was the sun right here in New Mexico, but other [states] have to look for other renewable sources."

The big picture: Thirty states and Washington, D.C., have active renewable or clean energy requirements, and three other states have voluntary renewable goals.

  • The Senate in 2005 narrowly backed a national standard sought by Bingaman that would have required 10% of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.
  • But House Republicans opposed a broad mandate and it never became law.

Fun fact: Apart from writing a 2022 book on Congress' dysfunction, Bingaman said he's enjoying a quiet retirement in Santa Fe. "I'm not doing much," he said with a smile.

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