ORIGINAL REPORTING: Surprise!?!? Requiring New Energy Grows New Energy
Why mandates still matter in the age of cheap renewables; Wind and solar are now competitive with legacy power resources, but analysts expect state RPS laws will continue to drive growth for both renewable leaders and laggards.
Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 3, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: With prices of New Energy falling, the necessity for mandates is diminishing.
Since 2009, solar PV has seen cost reductions of 77%, wind’s installed price has dropped 38%, and battery costs have come down 79%, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Those developments have private companies taking notice, purchasing more wind and solar energy voluntarily in 2017 than ever before, and forcing utilities to respond with new rate designs and renewable energy tariffs of their own. But energy analysts say these growing voluntary purchases are only part of the story. In many states, an older, proven driver of renewable energy is still playing a vital role — the renewable portfolio standard (RPS). RPS laws are used in D.C. and 29 states. They require a specific amount of renewable energy generation by a specific date, usually through utility electricity sales. Of the 120 GW of renewables capacity built since 2000, 56% was at least partially driven by RPS policies.
Renewables are now cost-competitive with other resources in voluntary markets, but markets do not offer the certainty of mandates, Malcom Woolf, vice president of policy and government affairs for Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), told Utility Dive. In states where resources are abundant, and markets are open, renewables can compete without mandates. But in vertically-integrated states, where investor-owned utilities dominate energy portfolio decisions, RPSs remain key to renewables growth. In 2016 and 2017, there were 181 proposed changes to RPS laws. Only 13 were enacted — seven strengthening an RPS and six that were neutral adjustments. Only two of the many efforts to repeal, reduce, or freeze mandates succeeded, and one of those was reversed. Most states have seen little difficulty meeting their requirements… click here for more