A Look at Costs, Benefits, and Impacts of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)

In December, DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released A Prospective Analysis of the Costs, Benefits, and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards. This study compares three scenarios: (1) a no RPS scenario (RPSs do not exist beyond 2014 and limited economic growth in renewable energy); (2) an existing RPS scenario (assumes RPS requirements continue to grow based on existing state policies as of July 2016); and (3) a high renewable energy scenario (assumes nearly all states adopt aggressive RPSs).  The analysis compares costs (including electric system costs and electricity prices), benefits (in terms of air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and water use), and impacts (to renewable energy workforce requirements, economic development, and natural gas prices).

The analysis finds that benefits exceed costs, even in the highest cost and lowest benefit outcomes.  The study notes its limitations, though; for example, it considers a subset of potential benefits and impacts and has omitted land use and wildlife impacts.

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