(January 6, 2016) A new study estimates that $2.2 billion in benefits came from reduced greenhouse gas emissions and $5.2 billion from reductions in other air pollution for state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies operating in 2013. The report also shows national water withdrawals and consumption were reduced by 830 billion gallons and 27 billion gallons in 2013, respectively. The report, entitled A Retrospective Analysis of the Benefits and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards, was conducted by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and evaluates the benefits and other impacts of RPS policies.
RPS policies require utilities or other electricity providers to meet a minimum portion of their load with 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. Many states are currently considering whether to extend, eliminate, or otherwise revise existing RPS policies. “This work is intended to inform these ongoing discussions by helping states evaluate RPS programs,” said Berkeley Lab’s Ryan Wiser, one of the report authors.