New Berkeley Lab annual report on state RPS policies

July 24, 2017

We are pleased to announce the release of U.S. Renewables Portfolio Standards: 2017 Annual Status Report, an annual report by Berkeley Lab reviewing key trends in state renewables portfolio standards (RPS).

This annual update, which is published in slide-deck form, builds on Berkeley Lab's ongoing efforts to track and analyze state RPS policies. Among other topics, it describes recent legislative revisions, key policy design features, past and projected impacts on renewables development, compliance trends, and costs. The 2017 edition of the report presents historical data through year-end 2016 and projections through 2030. The report is published along with several data files that include Berkeley Lab's RPS demand projections and historical compliance data. 

Historical Renewables Capacity Growth (left) and Residual RPS Demand (right)

Key trends highlighted in the report include the following:

  • Evolution of state RPS programs: Significant RPS-related policy revisions since the start of 2016 include increased RPS targets in DC, MD, MI, NY, RI, and OR; requirements for new wind and solar projects and other major reforms to the RPS procurement process in IL; and a new offshore wind carve-out and solar procurement program in MA.
  • Historical impacts on renewables development: Roughly half of all growth in U.S. renewable electricity (RE) generation and capacity since 2000 is associated with state RPS requirements. Nationally, the role of RPS policies has diminished over time, representing 44% of all U.S. RE capacity additions in 2016 (as shown in the left-hand figure above). However, within particular regions, RPS policies continue to play a central role in supporting RE growth, constituting 70-90% of 2016 RE capacity additions in the West, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast.
  • Future RPS demand and incremental needs: Meeting RPS demand growth will require roughly a 50% increase in U.S. RE generation by 2030, equating to 55 GW of new RE capacity (as shown in right-hand figure above). To meet future RPS demand, total U.S. RE generation will need to reach 13% of electricity sales by 2030 (compared to 10% today), though other drivers will also continue to influence RE growth.
  • RPS target achievement to-date: States have generally met their interim RPS targets in recent years, with only a few exceptions reflecting unique state-specific policy designs.
  • REC pricing trends: Prices for renewable energy certificates (RECs) used to meet general RPS obligations fell in most markets in 2016, as surplus RPS supplies emerged in many regions. Price trends for solar RECs were more varied, with a particularly pronounced drop in MD.
  • RPS compliance costs and cost caps: RPS compliance costs totaled $3.0 billion in 2015 (the most-recent year for which relatively complete data are available), which equates to 1.6% of average retail electricity bills in RPS states. Though total U.S. RPS compliance costs rose from 2014, future cost growth in most RPS states will be capped by cost containment mechanisms. 

The report, along with associated data files and other RPS-related publications by Berkeley Lab, is available for download at http://rps.lbl.gov.  

If you have any questions on the report, feel free to contact Galen Barbose (510-495-2593, glbarbose@lbl.gov) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. We appreciate the funding support from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (Transmission Permitting & Technical Assistance Division).

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