Academic journal article Brigham Young University Law Review

Where Are They Now? A Look at the Effectiveness of RPS Policies

Academic journal article Brigham Young University Law Review

Where Are They Now? A Look at the Effectiveness of RPS Policies

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

Throughout the past decade, states have been enacting renewables portfolio standards (RPS) policies aimed at developing and incorporating renewable energy into the state energy scheme in order to improve and diversify energy sources across the country.1 Although there is no nationwide requirement or policy enacted, tiius far twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have independendy adopted some form of RPS policy.2 Additionally, seven otiier states have developed nonmandatory renewable portfolio goals.3 The projected improvement in "[ejnergy security and diversity, economic development, and environmental protection" has induced many states to incorporate such policies.4 Furthermore, RPS policies have been spurred on by many factors, including "[fjederal tax incentives, state renewable energy funds, voluntary green power markets, the specter of future greenhouse gas regulations, and the economic fundamentals of certain forms of renewable energy relative to conventional generation."5

It is difficult to fully assess what effect RPS policies have had on the nation's renewable energy landscape because each state has a distinct policy with different requirements for the policies as well as different time frames regarding when goals are to be accomplished. However, one can take an empirical look at state accomplishments and setbacks. This can be done in conjunction with understanding how states are measuring up to their self-initiated standards. Because RPS policies have not consistently required accountability and states are not effectively complying with these self-imposed, mandatory requirements, they appear to be more of a political tool used to provide a false sense of accomplishment in the development and use of renewable energy. To ensure better compliance, states should first develop the necessary foundation to adequately support the advancement of renewable energy resources through funding and transmission. Then, states should stringently enforce RPS policies to make themselves accountable for the mandatory standards set and to progress the development of renewable energy technology. This Comment will focus on what is actually being accomplished by states having RPS policies. First, Part II will discuss some basic background information about RPS policies. Then in Part III, states' current RPS policy goals will be explored further in an effort to understand the typical standards and requirements associated with RPS policies. Part IV will look at the amendments that states have made to their RPS policies and why these amendments were enacted. Part V will examine the compliance standards set forth and the enforcement of those standards. Finally, Part VI will examine compliance barriers states face and future issues that may hinder the effectiveness of RPS policies.

II. BACKGROUND

RPS policies have been adopted by states in an effort to develop renewable energy technology and expand energy diversity. An RPS policy sets forth a specific amount of energy that electricity suppliers must generate through renewable resources.6 Although each state independently sets goals and compliance requirements, the overarching drive of RPS policies is to develop a greater amount of renewable energy supply in order to diversify and improve upon current state energy policies.7 Although the lure of a diversified energy platform exists, the development of new renewable energy technologies and implementation of RPS policies has proven to be difficult.8 Ideally, RPS policies will help develop and shape the energy landscape in the United States by providing diverse energy resources in a manner that combats energy scarcity and harm to the environment.9 However, lingering questions remain. For example, it is unclear what exactly RPS policies have done, whether they will actually develop into a diversified energy landscape, and whetiier they will provide the adequate renewable energy resources expected from these policies. …

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