U.S. Renewables Portfolio Standards: 2019 Annual Status Update

Publication Type


Date Published




Berkeley Lab’s annual status report on U.S. renewables portfolio standards (RPS) provides an overview of key trends associated with U.S. state RPS policies. The report, published in slide-deck form, describes recent legislative revisions, key policy design features, compliance with interim targets, past and projected impacts on renewables development, and compliance costs.

The 2019 edition of the report presents historical data through year-end 2018 and projections through 2030. Key trends from this edition of the report include the following:

  • Evolution of state RPS programs: States continue to refine and revise their RPS policies. Among other significant changes since the start of 2018, ten states enacted higher RPS targets (CA, CT, DC, MA, MD, NE, NJ, NM, NV, and NY), in most cases setting targets equal to at least 50% of retail sales. One state (OH) reduced its RPS targets.
  • Historical impacts on renewables development: Roughly half of all growth in U.S. renewable electricity (RE) generation and capacity since 2000 is associated with state RPS requirements, though not all of that is strictly attributable to RPS policies. Nationally, the role of RPS policies has diminished over time, representing just under 30% of all U.S. RE capacity additions in 2018. However, within particular regions—especially the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, and to a lesser extent the West—RPS policies continue to serve a central role in motivating RE growth.
  • Future RPS demand and incremental needs: RPS demand growth will require roughly a 50% increase in U.S. RE generation by 2030, equating to 73 GW of new RE capacity. To meet future RPS obligations, U.S. non-hydro RE generation will need to reach 17% of electricity sales by 2030 (compared to 12% today), though other drivers will also continue to influence RE growth.
  • RPS target achievement to-date: States have generally met their interim RPS targets in recent years, with only a few exceptions reflecting unique, state-specific policy designs.
  • REC pricing trends: Prices for NEPOOL Class I RECs fell in 2018, before rebounding in early 2019, while PJM Tier I REC prices have remained relatively flat. Price trends for solar RECs vary by state, with the highest prices in DC, MA, and NJ.
  • RPS compliance costs and cost caps: RPS compliance costs—which reflect only a sub-set of all impacts—totaled $4.7 billion in 2018, equating to 2.6% of average retail electricity bills in RPS states, compared to $4.0 billion and 1.7% of retail bills in 2017. Cost increases from rising RPS targets have been offset to some degree by falling RE costs and REC prices.


Year of Publication



The most recent version of the RPS report and data files can be accessed via the project page found here.


Research Areas

Related Files