For the moment, forget all the inside the Beltway bickering. For one major energy plan, Democrats and at least two Republicans are now on the same page.

Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) have thrown their support behind what is being described as a “strong” national Renewable Energy Standard (RES). With support from the three Republicans, it seems Congress will be breaking with recent tradition and pass some sort of energy legislation.

Shortly after the deal was struck, senators of both political parties began praising the new RES. “A sensible and modest renewable energy standard will help encourage home-grown supplies like wind in Kansas and help diversify our nation's energy sources,” said Sen. Brownback. Sen. Jeff Bingaman who brokered the RES seemed positive in not only getting this deal through the Senate, but also the lower chamber. “I think that [the votes] are present in the House. I think that we need to get on with figuring out what we can pass and move forward,” Bingaman said in a release sent out by the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Essentially, the deal that was struck calls for utility companies to produce an increased amount of their electricity from renewable sources over the next 30 years. Here is the breakdown of how much electricity the government will require companies to produce from renewable sources:

YEAR               %

2012-1203     3

2014-2016     6

2017-2018     9

2019-2020     12

2021-2039     15

The revival of the RES is big news for distraught supporters of the idea. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) took the RES provision out of the oil spill bill, which has yet to gain traction, back in July. Reid claimed any climate language in the “spill bill” would fail to get a single Republican vote. Now, with a handful of supporters across the aisle, passing the stand-alone RES law is now within the realm of possibility.   

But this is Washington. This is an election year. And just to reiterate: This is Washington. A Reuters report by Timothy Gardner, quoted Kevin Book of ClearView Energy Partners, LCC, as saying the bill has close to “zero” chances of passing before the end of the year. There are also concerns about the future makeup of the Senate, not only because Republicans are likely to gain more seats, but supporters like Brrownback won’t be around after the election as he is running for Governor of Kansas. So, while eyes are on 2011, it may actually be easier to pass this bill in the tumultuous political atmosphere of 2010.

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