WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Tuesday that chances of getting through Congress a mechanism called a clean energy standard, which aims to help boost low-carbon power technology, could improve if it includes incentives for U.S. states.
An energy efficiency and clean energy standard is included in President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, but it is uncertain how much of the blueprint will make it through Congress, where Biden’s fellow Democrats hold only slim majorities.
The standard, which sets deadlines for utilities to use power from clean energy sources, is a key part of Biden’s policy to help curb climate change by decarbonizing the power sector by 2035. Nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage technologies would be part of the policy, Gina McCarthy, White House national climate adviser, told reporters this month.
That could help preserve at-risk power plants, perhaps including some existing coal-powered facilities, which could help win votes.
Granholm said it remains to be seen whether the standard could be passed through the Senate by regular order, meaning 60 votes in the 100-member chamber, or through a process called reconciliation, for which it would need only a simple majority.
“So much of it depends on how it is crafted,” Granholm told the BNEF conference. There is “a way to consider crafting something that provides incentives to the states to be able to make that happen,” Granholm said.
She did not provide further details but said the incentives could be similar to “Race to the Top” program in which states had access to competitive grants from the U.S. Education Department to help them meet high school education standards.
Several bills have a clean energy standard, including one sponsored by Representative Frank Pallone and two other Democrats in the U.S. House.
Biden’s proposed budget last week provided money for the Energy Department to oversee a clean energy standard.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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