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Conclusions on the Role of State Policy in Renewable Energy Development

On the role of state policy in renewable energy development, the State of the States 2009 analysis provides some overall conclusions. These primary observations also indicate many areas of continued research to better understand the role.

  • There is a quantified connection between policy and renewable energy development. Understanding the details of the connection to better inform policy development at the state level is the primary next step.

  • Time is needed before the renewable energy development resulting from policy may be observed. Developing a dataset that spans over multiple years will assist in strengthening the time-lag analysis. This would include a more thorough record of when the policies being considered are implemented, changed, or discontinued, and an enhanced historical record of renewable energy generation and development data. This will contribute to a more valid analysis of the time lag between policy implementation and the resulting renewable energy development, as well as a better understanding of the impact of policy on development.

  • In addition to policy, there are many other contextual factors driving the development of renewable energy resources at the state level. Better understanding the role of each of these factors and their variation across states will provide insight and understanding into the development of renewable energy resources, as well as the role of each in transformation of the clean energy market. Future efforts include a more thorough approach that quantifies and includes as many contextual factors and explanatory variables as possible, which will allow a clearer picture to emerge of how policy affects renewable energy development.

  • Policy best practices are design based, not results based. Further investigation into policy outcomes and better understanding of policy design elements that are applicable across state contextual factors are critical. They will help inform the development of state policies that are effective in increasing renewable energy. Future efforts regarding best practice policy designs include continuing research to broaden the understandings of best practices, as well as integrating time-lag analysis with this methodology. Discovering when certain states began following the best practice guidelines for any given policy should contribute greatly to the understanding of policy design and its impact on renewable energy development.

For more information on these conclusions, see Chapter 6 "State of the States 2009: Renewable Energy Development and the Role of Policy."