The cost of cutting Biden’s key climate program

Net Zero Carbon vs Neutral Emissions
President Biden's signature climate initiatives would cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a billion tons in 2030, according to a report on key pieces of the legislative proposals.(Courtesy: Marek Piwnicki/Unsplash)

Stripping the Clean Electricity Performance Program from a historic climate bill being considered by Congress would eliminate more than a third of potential emissions reductions, new analysis shows.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has informed the White House that he won’t support the CEPP — the carrot and stick mechanism designed to accelerate clean electricity generation by American utilities. The CEPP is the key piece of the broader $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, and is crucial for President Biden’s climate agenda.

Analysis by the think tank Energy Innovation determined that, without the CEPP, “emissions are likely to be 250-600 MMT higher per year in 2030, which could eliminate more than a third of the total emissions reductions in the Infrastructure Bills.”

Renewable Energy World’s John Engel interviewed Lindsey Walter, deputy director of climate and energy for Third Way, to discuss the Clean Electricity Performance Program (also referred to as the Clean Electricity Payment Program).

Rhodium Group analyzed several of the most significant provisions within the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package and the “Build Back Better” plan within the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.

The report finds that the proposals — long-term clean energy tax credits, a Clean Electricity Performance Program, funding for rural electric cooperatives to decarbonize, new electric vehicle tax credits, fees on methane emissions, and boosted funding for agricultural and forestry programs that achieve carbon removal — can cut US emissions by 830-936 million tons in 2030 compared to current policy.

Beginning in 2023, the Clean Electricity Performance Program would reward utilities that increase their share of clean energy by 4% per year with grants and punish utilities that fall short by imposing fees.

In August, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told colleagues in a letter that President Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels is within reach, in large part due to the proposed CEEP. Analysis of the program found that it would create nearly 8 million jobs by 2031.

“The biggest share of reductions comes from the electric power sector, where the combination of clean energy tax credits, CEPP, and rural cooperative programs cut emissions by up to 715 million tons,” the authors wrote. “Depending on energy market and technology cost assumptions, the CEPP delivers the majority of these reductions.”

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John Engel is the Content Director for Renewable Energy World. For the past decade, John has worked as a journalist across various mediums -- print, digital, radio, and television -- covering sports, news, and politics. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife, Malia. Have a story idea or a pitch for Renewable Energy World? Email John at john.engel@clarionevents.com.

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