A new study on state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) concludes that in 2013 these state energy laws yielded $7.4 billion in benefits while costing only $1 billion. Conducted by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the study specifically estimates that $2.2 billion in benefits came from reduced greenhouse gas emissions and $5.2 billion came from reductions in other air pollution (primarily from avoided premature mortality). RPS policies require electricity providers to generate a set portion of their load from eligible forms of renewable electricity. They currently exist in 29 U.S. states plus Washington, D.C., and have been a driver for renewable electricity generation in the United States over the past decade.
Oregon is poised to join the RPS ranks. While this would not seem like news – the 30th state to join – what stands out is that Oregon’s utilities support the bill that sets a 50% renewables target by 2040 and ends all coal-fired power generation by 2030. Over the past 10 years, electric utilities have not led the pack in RPS laws gaining steam.