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Projected Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions from the Power Sector under the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, S. 2146

This analysis provides an assessment of the projected power sector greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions from S. 2146, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 (CESA), introduced by Senator Bingaman and eight cosponsors on March 1, 2012. CESA establishes a standard for clean energy generation in the United States through 2035. In 2035 covered utilities must supply 84 percent of their total annual sales of electricity from clean sources. CESA defines “clean” on the basis of a generator’s greenhouse gas emissions intensity, and thus can drive significant reductions in emissions.


  • CESA can reduce GHG emissions from the power sector approximately 12-18 percent (295-428 million metric tons CO2e) below 2005 levels in 2020 and 49-56 percent (1,194-1,357 mmtCO2e) below 2005 levels in 2035, assuming that affected utilities meet their obligations under the program by generating electricity from clean sources or purchasing credits from other clean sources. The figure also compares the projected reductions from CESA to the power sector reductions that were predicted to occur under the American Clean Energy Security Act (ACESA, or Waxman-Markey), which is the only comprehensive climate bill to pass either house of Congress and would have reduced total U.S. GHG emissions (i.e., economy-wide) 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020.
  • The GHG reductions from CESA are significant, but not sufficient to reduce U.S. economy-wide GHG emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020 without ambitious greenhouse gas abatement measures from other sectors.

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