Driving Renewable Energy in Your State
|Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 12:00 AM
Want to drive renewable energy in your state?
A March 30 webinar sponsored by The Council of State Governments and the Clean Energy Group just might have the answers state leaders need to get on that road.
CSG and the Clean Energy Group have partnered to educate state leaders on best practices involving solar energy. The Clean Energy Group’s new publication, “Distributed Renewable Energy Finance and Policy Toolkit,” offers a host of policy options for advancing renewable energy at the state level. It’ll be the centerpiece of the March 30 webinar.
Many states are learning the benefits that come with renewable energy such as solar, including job creation, a diversified energy supply and lowered utility bills. In addition, many states have adopted renewable portfolio standards in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
And when states have diverse sources of energy, they’re not so reliant on one fuel source, which could also provide a cushion against price fluctuations. Diversification can also reduce stress on the power grid by providing power at peak times when it is difficult to bring other, more traditional sources of power online to meet demand.
The Clean Energy Group recommends states use a suite of policy options to drive renewable energy, but stresses it will take a concerted, long-term effort to reach their goals.
Policies such as feed-in tariffs, rebates and loan guarantees can help states push the adoption of renewable energy. As manufacturing processes improve and volume increases, costs come down.
Performance-based incentives are one example of a policy option available to policymakers. These incentives pay the owner/installer based on the actual performance of the system. That is, if the system is installed at a high quality site—in the case of solar, meaning lots of sun—and with good equipment, the state will pay a higher incentive. This has an advantage over a direct rebate, which pays out regardless of system performance.
Another option is for states to address the unique needs of solar, which is more expensive than wind and other renewable energies. When states require utilities to have a certain percentage of their renewable energy requirements come from solar, that spurs development of the technology and result in lower costs. Maryland, for example, requires that 2 percent of electricity sales come from solar by 2022.