The Impact of State Clean Energy Fund Support for Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Projects
At least fourteen states across the U.S. have established funds to promote the development and commercialization of renewable energy technologies. Most often financed by a small surcharge on retail electricity rates, these funds currently collect more than $500 million per year in aggregate in support of renewables. At this funding level, state clean energy funds are positioned to be a major driver of renewable energy development. Though state clean energy funds have pursued a variety of approaches in the use of their funds, support for the deployment of utility-scale renewable energy projects – such as commercial wind, biomass, and geothermal projects – has been a principal target of most funds. This case study, and the database it describes, summarizes the support that clean energy funds have provided to utility-scale renewable energy projects in recent years, detailing – among other things – the amount of funds obligated and the number, capacity, and resource type of projects supported. This case study focuses on projects supported by funds that are members of the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA). CESA is a non-profit, membership-based, multi-state coalition consisting of most of the clean energy funds throughout the United States.1 CESA provides information and technical assistance to its member funds, and works with them to develop and promote clean energy technologies and to create and expand the markets for these technologies. The database on which this summary is based will be updated periodically to provide a running summary of state activity and influence. The Excel database contains information on all non-photovoltaic, utility-scale (defined here as 1 MW or larger in nameplate capacity), new renewable energy projects (whether currently on line or not) that have received (or been obligated) construction- or production-related financial support from CESA-member clean energy funds. The database does not include projects that have received only pre-development support; nor does it cover R&D or other non-deployment activities. In addition, several clean energy funds, including those in California and New York, now provide direct financial assistance to projects participating in each state's renewables portfolio standard (RPS) – the database does not include such RPS-related support. The database includes both project and incentive information, to the extent readily available. Project information includes: project location, resource type (e.g., wind, geothermal, etc.), nameplate capacity, project participants (e.g., developer/owner), project status (i.e., online, pending, or canceled), online date (if applicable), and power purchase agreement (PPA) counterparty (if applicable). Incentive information includes: supporting clean energy fund, incentive type (e.g., grant vs. production incentive vs. loan), original and revised incentive amount, date of incentive award, solicitation name (if any), and treatment of the project's tradable renewable certificates (TRCs – i.e., whether the fund places any restrictions on the sale of TRCs from the project). Finally, in addition to reporting the incentive as it is actually structured, we also normalize all incentives to their equivalent 5-year production incentive value in order to facilitate broad comparisons across projects, technologies, and clean energy funds. The remainder of this report provides summary information compiled from the database as of March 2006.