State Renewable Portfolio Standards Create Jobs and Promote Clean Energy

Fact Sheet
March 14, 2013

Renewable Portfolio Standards attract new industries, create jobs, and keep state businesses competitive, while encouraging development of renewable power like wind, solar, and biomass.

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) move states toward clean, renewable energy by requiring that a percentage of a state's electricity sold or generated must come from renewable sources within a certain time period. Twenty-nine states have some kind of RPS (sometimes called Renewable Electricity Standards).

These statutes have enjoyed strong bipartisan support because of their proven ability to attract new industries, create jobs, and keep state businesses competitive, while encouraging development of renewable power like wind, solar, and biomass. Each RPS is structured to reflect differences in resource availability and electric utilities among the states and nearly all Standards have provisions to curb any significant increases in electricity costs.

Renewable Portfolio Standard Success Stories

Rapid development of renewable energy resources, driven in large part by a state Renewable Portfolio Standards, has already generated significant economic activity and jobs. For example:

  • Kansas: 12,300 jobs have been created by Kansas's 19 wind farms, including more than 3,700 jobs directly related to the construction and operation of the projects. Kansas landowners receive $13.7 million annually in lease payments and royalties, and local communities and the state collect more than $10.4 million per year in voluntary contributions.
  • Missouri: As part of the state's Standard, utilities provide an incentive for customer installations of solar photovoltaics systems—making solar more affordable. As a result, Missouri solar installations have increased from 101 kW in 2009 (before the Standard's existence) to more than 7.8 MW in 2012.
  • Ohio: Ohio is home to a leading U.S. component supplier for wind turbine equipment manufacturers and a top producer of solar materials across the supply chain, and more than 160 companies are providing jobs in the solar industry.
  • North Carolina: The North Carolina RPS contributed $1.4 billion in investment in clean energy projects between 2007 and 2012 (a 13-fold increase) while creating or saving more than 20,000 jobs and holding electricity rates steady.

Studies Suggesting the Renewable Portfolio Standard Hurts A State's Economy Are Flawed

Despite broad bipartisan support for state Renewable Portfolio Standards, there are critics who seek to weaken or repeal them. Starting in 2011, the Beacon Hill Institute, a think tank nested within Suffolk University, has released 13 studies concluding that Renewable Portfolio Standards in 13 different states would raise electricity prices and decrease investment. But the studies are deeply flawed, for example, by inflating the price of renewable energy and ignoring specific provisions in the standard that put a cost cap on any rise in electricity rates.

NRDC and its partners refute the claims of the Beacon Hill Institute, and show instead that Renewable Portfolio Standards benefit state economies: