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Cheap energy may not mean cheap bill

A car passes by rows of wind turbines at the Altamont Pass wind farm in Byron, Calif.

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: This week the Senate is expected to vote on an energy bill. It's likely to be an amended version of the one passed by the House last week. There's support for higher fuel-economy standards, but little agreement on another energy saving idea, requiring utilities to generate a chunk of power from renewable sources. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports.


Sam Eaton: Southeastern lawmakers, major utilities, and the White House are balking at a provision requiring public utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources. They argue its "one size fits all" approach punishes states that lack sufficient renewable energy supplies, driving up prices for consumers.

But Ralph Cavanaugh with the Natural Resources Defense Council says gutting the proposal would hurt consumers even more:

Ralph Cavanaugh: Essentially what this sets up is a national competition to produce the cheapest possible renewable energy and get it to customers all across the country. That's in the national interest. And I believe strongly that over time, that will drive electric bills down, not up.

Cavanaugh says creating a national market for renewable energy would ensure that even the measure's staunchest critics could import ample supplies. And if local production is the goal, he says the region has more than enough biomass to generate its own renewable electricity.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.
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