Does It Have To Be This Hard? Implementing the Nation’s Most Aggressive Renewables Portfolio Standard in California
This article provides a stakeholder assessment of early experience with California's renewables portfolio standard (RPS). It is based on a longer document prepared for the Energy Commission, which reported results from telephone interviews with a diverse group of twenty-one California RPS stakeholders. The insights gained from these interviews were supplemented with a review of relevant statutes, regulatory decisions, party testimony, and utility solicitation documents, as well as comparative information on the design of RPS policies in other states. The goals of this article are to identify lessons learned from the early implementation of California's RPS, and to highlight areas of policy improvement needed for California to achieve its aggressive commitment to renewable energy. Experience with California's RPS may also offer lessons useful to other states struggling to design effective RPS policies, though certain elements of California's RPS are unique and are unlikely to be replicated elsewhere. We begin by describing California's RPS, and identifying the multitude of design features that make California's policy unique among state RPS policies. We then summarize stakeholder perspectives, as gleaned from our interview results, on the California RPS in general, as well as on two of the more important issues to date: deliverability and transmission requirements, and the effectiveness of recent utility solicitations. We close with policy recommendations.