cumulatively produce enough renewable energy for the entire country to meet a 20 percent standard.

"The targets don't start out at 20 percent," Deyette said. "They gradually ramp up over 13 years, so that provides time for other technologies to develop and mature."

Cooling Hot Air
Taylor said the details in forthcoming renewable energy requirements will reveal just how dramatic the "revolution" truly is.

"It may very well be that we'll be throwing wood chips into co-fired power plants," Taylor said. "What's the big deal? That won't mean we'll have turned ourselves into a nation of windmills and solar voltaic."

He added that generating electricity with renewable energy would do nothing to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

"You could build 100 massive wind power and solar power plants in the U.S. and not reduce oil imports a drop," he said. "They're just two different industries. We don't use oil to make electricity."

Oil produces only 1.6 percent of all electricity generated in the United States, according to the EEI.

But, all seem to agree that technology leaves no bet safe.

"I would not want to make predictions about what the electricity system would look like 30 years from now, based on prices and technology today," Taylor said. "Anything could change."

Andy Opsahl  | 

Andy Opsahl is a former staff writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.