Solar development still depends on renewable portfolio standards

Renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies have been instrumental in increasing solar development in many states. Nearly 60% of all growth in renewable electricity generation has been associated with state RPS requirements, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Twenty-nine states have established RPS policies, which require local retail electric suppliers to supply a minimum percentage of their retail load with eligible sources of renewable energy. Some states have renewable portfolio goals, but only 29 states have standards as law.

RPS policies accurate August 2016. Source: DSIRE

Many standard deadlines have passed (including Michigan, Montana, Texas and Wisconsin, which all had 2015 targets they each met), but most are within the next decade. The trend lately has been to increase RPS requirements—as Michigan did after meeting its original goal. The state has a new goal of 15% of its electricity coming from renewables by 2021.

Significant RPS updates:

  • Hawaii successfully increased its standard from 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2030 to 100% by 2045.
  • California wants to follow Hawaii and also achieve 100% by 2045. The state is currently working with a standard of 50% by 2030. California’s 100% request has not yet passed through the legislature.
  • Maryland has increased its percentage and limited the time to meet it. Originally working with a standard of 20% by 2022, Maryland’s house and senate voted in a 25% by 2020 RPS earlier this year.
  • After a highly publicized 2015 scuffle with net-metering proponents, Nevada has introduced a bill that would raise its RPS from 25% by 2025 to 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040.
  • In 2014, Ohio became the first state to roll back its RPS with a multi-year freeze of its ramp-up schedule. The 12.5% by 2026 standard is mandatory again, but another bill that aims to repeal it and instead make it an optional goal is working its way through the state senate.
  • Kansas voted in May 2015 to change its 20% by 2020 RPS into a voluntary goal. This is the first and only instance of a complete repeal of a state’s established RPS.

While solar development has been more concentrated in states with RPS targets, states without RPS policies aren’t ignoring solar power. Both Georgia and Florida do not have established RPS laws or goals, yet the two states found themselves in the Top 10 states for solar capacity in 2016, according to SEIA. Georgia ranked third with 1.023 GW installed and Florida was ninth with 404.3 MW installed.

Ohio’s potential RPS repeal may hurt significant solar projects in the natural gas-heavy state, but lack of renewable standards isn’t deterring all sunny states from installing solar. But there is no question—RPS policies do have an important role in the solar industry.


  1. Earl L. Kerr says:

    As a Floridian, seeing the potential for Solar Energy being held back by “legislators”, who receive millions of dollars from utility lobbyists,
    when we could be among ; if not, the most energy efficient and effective collecting state of “PHOTONS WHICH ARE FREE” to gather and put to economical, non-polluting use is embarrassing. Everyone of them, including the governor and his cohorts are to be held responsible when storms or cyber attack takes down the Grid with no insurance afforded by SOLAR ENERGY and other forms of alternative energy.

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