MD DC DE VA Solar Energy Industries Association

The Renewable Portfolio Standard: What is it?


Apr 16


By: Nikolas Michael

A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a policy that is designed to increase the amount of energy utilities provide from renewable sources, including wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. Most states have either a mandatory or voluntary RPS; Maryland and DC have a mandatory RPS while Virginia’s is voluntary and goal oriented. There is no federal Renewable Portfolio Standard program but 30 states and DC have mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standards, and 7 have voluntary programs.

In an enforceable system, Renewable Portfolio Standards require that a certain percentage of an electricity producer’s energy is from renewable sources. Sometimes an RPS is targeted at a specific industry, most likely the industry that makes the most sense in the state it is enacted in. For example, DC’s RPS calls for a 20% standard by 2020, and of that at least 2.5% must be solar. The success of an RPS is dependent on many things, such as implementing the right infrastructure and providing other incentives in order to develop the renewables needed to fulfill the standard. RPS has been very successful due to the ability of local governments to customize it to whatever makes the most sense in their state. As more policies and incentives toward renewables continue to be created, RPS will only become more effective. This will continue to drive the renewable industry forward, allowing it to flourish and create jobs and economic development.



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