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Judging State Renewable Portfolio Standards

Avatar for Ben Zientara
Published on 10/21/2014 in
Updated 11/09/2016
The US Supreme Court

Gettin’ Judgy Wit It

As part of the recently-published 2015 State Solar Power Rankings, the Solar Power Rocks team performed a review of all state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) laws. An RPS basically requires a certain percentage of a state’s energy production come from renewable sources by a specific date in the future. A great many states have passed such standards, sometimes with goals as high as 40% renewable energy production in the near future.

A state’s RPS is extremely important to solar policy because its requirements for renewable generation prompt utility companies to pay big fines for noncompliance, making them keen to offer rebates to their customers for installing solar and feeding it into the grid.

Because of the varied nature of RPS mandates, we needed a way to determine how each state’s RPS compared to that of all the others. The chart below is the result of that comparison.

Chart of the 50 state RPS laws.

The y-axis of the chart represents the goal percentage of renewable energy of an RPS, from 0 to 45%. The x-axis of the chart represents the year by which the goal must be achieved. State icons are distributed on the graph based on their RPS numbers.The 32 states with mandatory RPS laws (and the District of Columbia) are represented on the main graph. On the left are two separate blocks of state icons; one for the 7 states with voluntary RPS laws (meaning there is no penalty for non-compliance), which were given automatic “D” grades; and one for the 12 states without RPS laws, which were given automatic “F” grades.

This distribution method made it easy to see the states that had both high standards and aggressive deadlines, and reward them accordingly. For example, Maine, Colorado, Oregon and Hawaii are all along the 40% line, the highest requirement of all RPS laws, but Hawaii’s deadline is 2030, the furthest off of any state on the list. Perhaps more interesting is the 15% line on the chart; Montana’s 15% standard has a deadline of 2015, deserving of a “B” grade, but Washington and Missouri, with deadlines of 2020 and 2021, respectively, are in “C” territory, and Arizona’s 15% by 2025 pushes it into “D” territory.

The lines of color that represent the divisions between A, B, C and D territories were drawn in as estimated lines of best fit, making the graph a mix of art and science. If a state has a high enough RPS, we decided, its compliance deadline can be pushed back a bit and still meet the criteria for a high grade.

Take a look at the graph, and see how the RPS grades affected your state’s overall solar rank by checking out the 2015 State Solar Power Rankings, or by clicking on your state’s name in the right sidebar of this page.If you want to learn more please go to Print My Logo UK

Last modified: November 9, 2016

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