University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

An Investigation of Solar Friendly Policies in American States’ Renewable Portfolio Standards

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June 2018

Will Horne

Abstract

Solar power has historically been a high cost form of renewable energy. Other renewables like wind have dominated the market, leading to a lack of diversity within American states’ renewable portfolio standards (RPS). To combat this lack of diversity, states have started to pass solar friendly policies that either spur solar development in their state (multiplier), or force their state to develop solar power (solar carve-out).This paper uses an inventory to attempt to better understand the extent to which solar friendly policies exist within RPSs, and whether or not patterns exist within these policies. The analysis section highlights three major conclusions: 1) the higher the percent solar used/potential in a state, the less likely that state is to have a multiplier; 2) the higher a state’s solar technical used is, the greater the likelihood that it has a solar carve-out; 3) the legislative language for RPSs differs drastically across states—some use RPS to create jobs, some use it to protect the environment, and some use it to support local renewables manufacturers. Therefore, there is no one "best" solar friendly policy, and instead policymakers can tailor these policies to both help their state and the environment.

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