Research

Renewable Energy Policy Pathways Report

The Renewable Energy Policy Pathways Report is an analysis of policies intended to evaluate and identify potential pathways to increase access and decrease costs of renewable energy procurement across the U.S.

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Introduction

Commercial & Industrial (C&I) customers collectively use over half of the electricity generated in the U.S. Businesses of all sectors and sizes are increasingly setting ambitious corporate goals to use clean or renewable energy to power their operations and facilities, including roughly half of the Fortune 500. 

C&I customers are driving significant amounts of renewable energy. In 2018, corporate buyers accounted for over one-fifth of the renewable energy power purchase agreements (PPAs) in the U.S. and have collectively deployed over 23 GW of new renewable energy over the last 5 years.

However, different policy and market structures constrain options available to C&I customers to buy the renewable energy they want across markets in the US. Large energy buyers of many types – from businesses, to cities, to higher-ed – are increasing their commitments to renewable energy, and at times are making decisions about expanding or siting facilities based on access to renewable energy. This study is intended to help identify the most promising pathways to expand access to renewable energy across market types.


THE FINDINGS: Policy Pathway Recommendations

The report analyzes three viable pathways for increasing renewable energy procurement, and concludes the following:

  1. Allowing C&I customers the option to choose their suppliers provides opportunities to expand access to renewables – potentially up to 100% of C&I needs. This option can lower the cost of renewable energy procurement by up to 11% compared to if customers do not have supply options.
  2. Utilities’ renewable energy subscription programs in states where C&I customers do not have supply choice can provide attractive near-term opportunities to improve access to renewables. This is particularly the case when utilities replace their retiring fossil generation with renewable energy for C&I.
  3. Moderate RPS expansions have the potential to green the grid for all customers, but do not directly provide procurement options for C&I customers to go beyond state established renewable energy targets.

Methodology

The Renewable Energy Policy Pathways identified eight sample states to represent a diverse set of market, regulatory, and regional features to model the potential pathways, and modeled near- and long-term market and policy strategies key impact metrics: Percent of C&I customer demand with access to 100 percent renewable energy supply, potential amount of renewable energy capacity and potential procurement costs for each pathway.


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REBA Institute Renewable Energy Pathways Policy Pathways Report cover.