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Clean Energy Policy Basics

States and local communities can create policy strategies to help them achieve their clean energy goals. To create effective strategies, it is helpful to understand how to build a clean energy policy portfolio and the different types of policies.

Clean Energy Policy Portfolios

Single policies do not transform markets for a clean energy economy in states and localities. The most effective approach is to apply a suite of policies in succession—from policies that prepare and create the market to those directed towards market expansion and saturation. To build such a policy portfolio at the state and local level, NREL analysts suggest using a framework that considers:

  • Barriers
  • Policy types
  • Different mixes of technologies.

For more information about NREL's suggested framework, see State and Local Clean Energy Policy Primer: Getting from Here to Clean Electricity with Policy.

Clean Energy Policy Types

At the state and local level, the following policies are designed to meet specific clean energy goals.

Community Solar

Community solar, also known as shared solar or solar gardens, is a solar energy deployment model that allows customers to buy or lease part of an offsite shared solar PV system. Learn more.

Feed-In Tariffs

A feed-in tariff is an energy-supply policy focused on supporting the development of new renewable power generation. Learn more.

Green Banks

Green Banks are one mechanism used to deploy low-cost capital for solar energy projects by offering favorable rates and terms to both traditional and underserved markets. Learn more.

Interconnection Standards

Interconnection standards dictate how renewable energy systems can be legally connected to the electricity grid. Learn more.

Low- and Moderate-Income Solar Policy Basics

States are leading the charge in identifying and piloting various approaches to bring the benefits of solar power to low- and moderate-income consumers. Learn more.

Net Metering

Net metering is a metering and billing arrangement designed to compensate distributed energy generation system owners for any generation that is exported to the utility grid. Learn more.

Renewable Energy Rebates

States, utilities, and a few local governments offer rebates to promote the installation of renewable energy technologies. Learn more.

Renewable Fuel Standards

A renewable fuel standard mandates the increased development of renewable fuels, such as biofuels. Learn more.

Renewable Portfolio Standards

Renewable portfolio standards require utilities to use renewable energy or renewable energy credits to account for a certain percentage of their retail electricity sales — or a certain amount of generating capacity — according to a specified schedule. Learn more.

Solar Requests for Proposals

State and local governments issue solar RFPs to select a solar developer who is qualified to design, procure, install, and/or commission a photovoltaic project. Learn more.

Value-of-Solar Tariffs

A value-of-solar (VOS) tariff is a rate design policy that gives customers with solar installations credit for the electricity generated by a photovoltaic PV system. Learn more.

More Information

For more information, see the Publications page.