Renewable Portfolio Standards: Changing the Industry


Stoel Rives attorney Brian Nese co-authored an article for Public Utilities Fortnightly titled “Renewable Portfolio Standards: Changing the Industry.” In the article the authors discuss the status of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in states across the U.S.—some of which have committed to enforceable renewable energy policies that use various forms of monetary disincentives to discourage non-compliance, while others have adopted renewable portfolio goals that are not mandatory in nature. 

The authors point out that of 139 bills introduced in state legislatures in 2015, only 14 became law. Examples of adopted legislation included Vermont’s new standards, Hawaii’s new commitment to supply all of its energy from renewable sources by 2045, and California’s increase in the required amount of energy produced from renewable sources—to 50 percent by 2030. On the other hand, Kansas rolled back its standards to replace them with voluntary goals, and West Virginia repealed its requirement that the state obtain 25 percent of its electrical power from renewable or advanced energy sources. 

The authors conclude that current data indicates that the RPS are achieving their goals of stimulating deployment of renewable generation, with statistics showing that, with the exception of two states, net generation from renewable sources increased between September 2015 and September 2016. However, the expressed conservative stance of the Trump administration on energy regulation and development adds uncertainty to the adoption of RPS legislation in the future. 

“Regardless of any changes to federal energy policy that may occur during the next presidential administration, this uptick in the number of standards legislation proposals over the preceding years is a signal,” they write. “We may continue to see an increase in renewable energy policies or programs, or changes to existing programs, in those states where proposed changes failed to emerge from committee deliberations.”

Read “Renewable Portfolio Standards: Changing the Industry,” published January 2017.

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