Renewable Portfolio Standards: Understanding Costs and Benefits
State policymakers, public utilities commissions, and the renewable industry rely on NREL's analysis of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) to understand costs, benefits, and impacts of current and potential standards or changes to standards.
NREL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) undertook a multi-year project to examine the costs, benefits, and other impacts of state RPS polices both retrospectively and prospectively.
Relying on a well-vetted set of methods, the study evaluates the costs, benefits, and other impacts of renewable energy used to meet future RPS demand growth over the 2015-2050 period. The study considers both the current set of state RPS policies, as well as a high renewable energy scenario in which most states adopt relatively aggressive targets. Those two scenarios are compared to a No RPS scenario, which assumes no further growth in RPS requirements beyond 2015. When comparing the costs and monetized benefits, we find that the benefits exceed the costs, even when considering the highest cost and lowest benefit outcomes.
More Information: Fact Sheet
Based on an analysis of data from state compliance filings and other sources, a new joint NREL and LBNL report finds that the estimated incremental RPS cost over a period from 2010–2012—the cost above and beyond what would have been incurred absent the RPS—was less than 1% of retail electricity rates on average.
Other RPS Work
International Best Practices for Implementing and Designing Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Policies, NREL Technical Report (2019)
Including Alternative Resources in State Renewable Portfolio Standards: Current Design and Implementation Experience, NREL Technical Report (2012)
Evaluating Renewable Portfolio Standards and Carbon Cap Scenarios in the U.S. Electric Sector, NREL Technical Report (2010)
Status and Trends in U.S. Compliance and Voluntary Renewable Energy Certificate Markets (2010 Data), NREL Technical Report (2011)
State Clean Energy Practices: Renewable Portfolio Standards, NREL Technical Report (2008)