GEOG 432
Energy Policy

Renewable Portfolio Standards


A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a regulation which mandates a percentage of a state's electricity will be supplied through renewable sources by a given date. For example, Hawaii's RPS establishes a target of 20% renewable electricity by the year 2020. An RPS provides the flexibility for the state to decide how to most efficiently achieve targets through a variety of market mechanisms. This map shows states with RPS standards and goals. You can visit the National Conference of State Legislatures to learn more about each state's standards, goals, and progress.  To learn more about RPS itself and how variable it is across states, see NREL's Renewable Portfolio Standards. For the purposes of our class, it's not essential that you know the exact list of which states are participating, or that you can recite their intricacies.  Instead, consider the following:

  • flexibility in policy mechanism(s) implemented - does your state use a carve-out to incentivize adoption of a specific technology?  How does your state define which energy sources count?  (For example, in Pennsylvania, we have an Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard - deliberately not described as renewable because it allows for the inclusion of a broader range of eligible technologies beyond what we conceive of as renewable energy.)
  • efficacy in meeting broader goals - because this is implemented unevenly across the US, are we limited in how effective the programs can be?  Would it make more sense to say at the federal level that each state must craft and implement an RPS of at least [insert parameters here] rigor by a certain date to capture the 21 states not currently pursuing RPS goals?
  • geography (always) matters - maybe we're cleaning up the electricity generated in these 29 states, but what affect does this have on generation in non-RPS states?  

What's your state up to?

Map of State Renewable Portfolio Standards goals
RPS by State (July 2019)
Click here for a text alternative to this map of Renewable Portfolio Standard Policies.

29 States, Washington DC, and 3 territories have a Renewable Portfolio Standard. 8 states and 1 territory have renewable portfolio goals. The list of areas that have renewable portfolio standards are: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Washington State, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Montana, Northern Mariana Islands, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The areas that have renewable portfolio goals are Virginia, South Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah, and Guam.

Credit: Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley National Lab