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In October, the Union of Concerned Scientists along with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and the Tellus Institute published A Clean Energy Blueprint: A Smarter National Energy Policy for Today and the Future, a comprehensive report that critically analyzes such key energy issues as: Can America develop a balanced portfolio of clean energy solutions that will stop wasting energy and also develop diverse, domestic energy supplies to increase energy security? Can America develop an energy system that will save consumers money, provide security and jobs, and leave a heritage of clean air, clean water, and pristine wilderness? Can the United States restore international good will and credibility by reducing carbon dioxide emissions that threaten to destabilize the global climate?
The Clean Energy Blueprint includes a suite of creative policies to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in the economy. Policies include:
* A renewable portfolio standard that would require utilities to increase non-hydropower renewable energy from about 2 percent today to 20 percent by 2020.
* A public benefits fund that would be created by a 0.2 cent per kilowatt-hour (kWh) charge on electricity, equivalent to about $1 per month for a typical household. It would be used to match state programs for energy efficiency, renewable energy, research and development, and low-income customer protection.
* Production tax credits of 1.7 cents per kwh for renewable energy that would be extended and expanded to cover all clean, non-hydro renewable resources, helping to level the playing field with fossil fuel and nuclear generation subsidies.
* Net metering that would treat fairly those consumers who generate their own electricity with renewable energy systems by allowing them to feed surplus electricity back to the grid and spin their meters backward.
* Research and development spending on renewable energy and efficiency that would increase 60 percent over three years to levels recommended by the president's committee of advisors on science and technology in 1997.
* Combined heat and power: Incentives would be provided and regulatory barriers removed for power plants that produce both electricity and useful heat at high efficiencies.
* Improved efficiency standards: National minimum efficiency standards would be established for a dozen products, generally to the level of good practices today. In addition, existing national standards would be revised to levels that are technically feasible and economically justified.
* Enhanced building codes: States would adopt …