State and Local Policy Analysis
NREL's state and local policy analysis team examines the effects of policy on renewable energy development and deployment on a state and local level.
Clean Energy Policy Analyses Project
One of NREL's key state and local policy initiatives is the Clean Energy Policy Analyses (CEPA) project. Through this project, NREL analysts seek to quantify the connection between state and local policies and clean energy market development and identify the impact of state policy on decision makers. Learn more about CEPA on the NREL State & Local Activities website.
Key Analyses for 2012
State Renewable Portfolio Standards
Analysts Jenny Heeter and Lori Bird recently published the report "Including Alternative Resources in State Renewable Portfolio Standards: Current Design and Implementation Experience."
As of November 2012, 29 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have instituted a renewable portfolio standard (RPS). An RPS sets a minimum threshold for how much renewable energy must be generated in a given year. Each state policy is unique, varying in percentage targets, timetables, and eligible resources. This paper examines state experience with implementing renewable portfolio standards that include energy efficiency, thermal resources, and non-renewable energy and explores compliance experience, costs, and how states evaluate, measure, and verify energy efficiency and convert thermal energy. It aims to gain insights from the experience of states for possible federal clean energy policy as well as to share experience and lessons for state RPS implementation.
Key Analyses for 2010
Policies on Net Metering
SEAC analysts Elizabeth Doris, Sarah Busche, and Stephen Hockett recently published the report "Net Metering Policy Development and Distributed Solar Generation in Minnesota: Overview of Trends in Nationwide Policy Development and Implications of Increasing the Eligible System Size Cap."
The goal of the Minnesota net metering policy is to give the maximum possible encouragement to distributed generation assets, especially solar electric systems. However, according to a published set of best practices that prioritize the maximum development of solar markets within states, the Minnesota policy does not incorporate many of the important best practices that may help other states transform their solar energy markets and increase the amount of grid-connected distributed solar generation assets. Reasons cited include the low system size limit of 40kW (the best practices document recommends a 2 MW limit) and a lack of language protecting generators from additional utility fees. This study was conducted to compare Minnesota's policies to national best practices. It provides an overview of the current Minnesota policy in the context of these best practices and other jurisdictions' net metering policies, as well as a qualitative assessment of the impacts of raising the system size cap within the policy based on the experiences of other states.
Key Analyses for 2009
2009 "State of the States" Report
NREL analysts Elizabeth Doris, Joyce McLaren, Victoria Healey, and Stephen Hockett published the annual report "State of the States 2009: Renewable Energy Development and the Role of Policy," which examines the role of policy in renewable energy development.
As U.S. states increasingly focus on developing renewable energy resources, there is a need to track the progress of development, as well as the policies and support mechanisms being implemented to encourage this development. Beyond tracking, the evaluation of policy measures is necessary to determine their effectiveness, guide future efforts, and efficiently allocate resources.
This report addresses each of these needs. It provides a detailed picture of the status of renewable energy development in each of the U.S. states using a variety of metrics and discusses the policies being used to encourage this development.
The report then explores the context in which renewable energy development occurs by discussing the factors that can affect the uptake of power generation technologies. The analysis offers suggestions on how policies can be used to address these variables, which leads to tailored policy support that considers the specific circumstances within each state.
The analysis presents results of several quantitative evaluation methods that have been designed to explore the link between policy implementation and actual development. These analyses are an attempt to move beyond designed-based policy evaluation and develop performance-based evaluation methods instead.
Finally, the report discusses contextual factors, aside from policy, that affect renewable energy development. Understanding contextual factors, which create the framework for renewable energy markets, is essential for effective policy design and implementation. The report concludes with a summary of the main points from each chapter, discussion of next steps, and a list of resources.
NREL has published "Decoupling Policies: Options to Encourage Energy Efficiency Policies for Utilities."
This report provides information for states and communities on clean energy policies. Decoupling can be a win-win strategy to both utility companies and their customers by breaking the link between electricity and gas sales and revenue. This document describes how a well-designed decoupling plan can help keep utility profits steady and customers' energy costs in check—removing the disincentive for utilities to promote energy efficiency programs.
Renewable Energy Rebates
SEAC analysts Eric Lantz and Elizabeth Doris recently published the report "State Clean Energy Practices: Renewable Energy Rebates."
This report highlights the impacts of specific renewable energy rebate programs on renewable energy markets around the country, as well as rebate program impacts on overarching energy policy drivers. It also discusses lessons learned, challenges, ideal applications, keys to success, and complementary and alternative policies. Results indicate that rebate programs can have a strong deployment impact on emerging renewable energy markets. This report focuses on renewable energy rebate programs, which are being analyzed as part of the State Clean Energy Policies Analysis (SCEPA) project. SCEPA looks at the impacts of existing state policies and identifies crucial policy attributes and their potential applicability to other states.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and selected federal incentives that promote renewable energy. DSIRE also has information on the programs, rules and regulations, and financial incentives.
"State Clean Energy Policies Analysis (SCEPA) Project: An Analysis of Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariffs in the United States." Couture, T.; Cory, K. (2009). 51 pp.; NREL Report No. TP-6A2-45551.
"State Clean Energy Practices: Renewable Energy Rebates." Lantz, E.; Doris, E. (2009). 38 pp.; NREL Report No. TP-6A2-45039.
"Analytic Framework for Evaluation of State Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Policies with Reference to Stakeholder Drivers." Brown, E.; Mosey, G. (2008). 10 pp.; NREL Report No. TP-670-43539.
"State of the States 2008: Renewable Energy Development and the Role of Policy." Brown, E.; Busche, S. (2008). 123 pp.; NREL Report No. TP-670-43021.
"State Clean Energy Practices: Renewable Portfolio Standards." Hurlbut, D. (2008). 23 pp.; NREL Report No. TP-670-43512.
To talk with an analyst about this area of policy analysis, contact the Webmaster.