Several bills are being discussed in Congress this year that would set the first national renewable electricity standards, requiring utilities to derive a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is proposing 20 percent from renewable sources by 2021. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Todd Platts (R-Pa.) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) want 25 percent renewables by 2025. (To put that in perspective, in 2007, renewables supplied 7 percent of the nation's energy.)
Legislation of this kind is likely to pass in the next several months, whether as a stand-alone bill, or as part of a comprehensive climate change bill. President Obama has already called for a goal of 25 percent from renewable sources by 2025.
While one would expect new jobs would be needed to build up the renewable energy sector to provide that amount of power, the UCS study found that the job gains would remain even after the ramp-up period. Renewables inherently require more labor than fossil-fuel-based power such as coal.