More than half the states in the U.S. have adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requiring a percentage of electric generation come from renewable sources. A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study found that 62% of the renewable generation needed to satisfy these RPSs will come from wind, with Texas and the Midwestern States seeing 94% compliance coming from wind energy.
Adoption of RPS policies hinges on state-sponsored studies that project the costs and benefits of RPS programs. Berkeley Lab researchers found that, across all state studies, the methodologies used in determining projected electricity rate impacts, environmental effects, and public benefits were limited and failed to account for key costs including:
- transmission and integration costs for wind energy,
- fluctuating capacity values,
- increasing capital costs for the turbines, and
- likelihood that coal-fired generation, not natural gas, will drive wholesale market prices in some regions.
In an interview, Berkeley Lab researcher Ryan Wiser said that "many of the studies were designed with the explicit intent to either influence legislative processes or, alternatively, to potentially affect the design of RPS policies as established by regulatory agencies."
According to the report the "disparity between study expectations and current market reality suggests that the actual cost impacts of state RPS policies may significantly exceed those estimated in our sample of studies, especially if higher wind costs persist."
In light of these findings, windaction.org encourages all state studies receive a second look. Legislators and the public deserve to know the true costs of these programs.