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Solar Fred Info: Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)

Avatar for Tor "Solar Fred" Valenza
Published on 07/15/2009 in
Updated 01/25/2016

You may be hearing about a national Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in the news lately. It’s usually mentioned with Carbon Cap and Trade Legislation going through Congress right now. What is an RPS, and why should you care? Good questions. Here are the answers:

What is a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)?

  • An RPS is not new. Many countries and individual states such as California have their own RPS. If a Cap & Trade law gets passed, there will finally be a National RPS. So what the heck will that do?
  • An RPS requires the State’s utilities to have a certain percentages of electric power produced by renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, over X number of years.
  • RPS requirements vary widely by state. Some are more ambitious than others. Where I live in California, for example, we have a target of 33% of the state’s energy coming from solar and other renewable energy sources by 2020, and 1% by 2010…Currently, we’re behind on reaching the 2010 goal.
  • In the case of a National RPS as part of the Cap and Trade legislation, all States would be required to generate some portion of their electric energy through renewable resources by a certain time. It remains to be seen what goals are actually passed once the Senate gets its hands on the bill. Stay tuned.

Why should you care about any RPS?

  • Because an RPS requires local and national governments to somehow encourage residents and businesses and utilities to go solar, go wind, go less carbon and help the environment.
  • That typically means that means subsidies are passed by States to help you purchase your systems. See for solar subsidies currently being offered in your state and utility area.
  • Of course, ramping up solar typically means that green jobs are created, something that will help the economy as well as our environment. It also creates training jobs to help repurpose our unemployed workforce.
  • There is also no hiding the fact that your electric bill will go up if you don’t have any solar or other renewable energy source to offset these increases. It won’t be much–$175/year by 2020 for the average family, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Nevertheless, you will pay less in utility costs over the 25+ year life span of solar panels if you purchase or solar lease or go with a solar ppa.

In fact, you’ll save a lot more as regular utility rates rise every year. This isn’t hype, I swear. Call a local dealer and get a quote. They’re free, so you can’t lose just checking it out to see if solar is right for you.

Last modified: January 25, 2016

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