State Lawmakers Are Using a Powerful Tool to Mandate Renewable Energy Use
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The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a public mandate, typically initiated by a state legislature with the purpose of increasing energy from renewable sources — wind, solar, and other alternatives to fossil fuel and nuclear power. Another purpose has been to drive renewable innovation by signaling a predictable, growing market. The law sets renewable energy production targets for utilities — either in the amount of energy they produce or as a share of their energy output — along with consequences for not meeting them, usually a fine.
Way back in 1983, Iowa became the first state to try this type of renewable energy mandate. The state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard mandated that Iowa’s two main utility companies own or secure by contract a total of 105 megawatts (MW) of renewables, or enough to power several hundred homes. Not a terribly impressive requirement … but a start. From this baby step came a big leap. By 2019, Iowa was the second largest wind power producer, after Texas. And by 2020, wind energy from more than 5,100 turbines powered 57 percent of Iowa’s net electricity generation — a bigger share than any other state.
As of early 2021 the state was generating around 11,500 megawatts of renewable-based energy, nearly 110 times the energy potential of Iowa’s original 105 megawatt renewables target. Iowa’s success has played a pivotal role in moving others to use the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Now, 30 states, plus Washington, D.C., and three territories have adopted the policy or a similar approach to mandate a shift in electricity generation.
In 2004, as the most oil-dependent state in the nation, Hawaii changed its renewable portfolio “goal” to an enforceable standard. In a 2015 update to the standard, Hawaii became the first state to set a target of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. Gov. David Ige explained: “Hawaii spends roughly $5 billion a year on foreign oil to meet its energy needs. Making the transition to renewable, indigenous resources for power generation will allow us to keep more of that money at home, thereby improving our economy, environment, and energy security.”
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
June 25, 2021 at 12:50 PM #431436jwirrParticipant
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If you travel across Iowa and the border area in Minnesota you see a line of wind mills that are the result of that 1980s movement. It is a beautiful sight to see.
But nothing much has been done to address the northern part of the MN state. My family have tried using solar on roofs but in the winter when it is needed the most the weather is the problem. Our governor did a great job with the pandemic. Now I would like to see him address the climate problems with the same enthusiasm. Since our national leaders can’t seen to be of much help it is going to come down to state action.
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