Every day brings news from somewhere that climate change is real—and presents real dangers, right now. If we want to avoid the worst effects of climate chaos, we’ll need to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, or sooner. One of the most effective ways to reach that goal is by expanding and strengthening Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
RPS are state-based policies that require a certain portion of electricity sold to consumers to come from “renewable sources.” And according to the new issue brief, “Ensuring the Renewable Energy Promise of Renewable Portfolio Standards,” they’re already in effect in 30 states and the District of Columbia, covering 55 percent of U.S. electricity sales. And even more impressive: thanks to RPS, we’ve seen a 60 percent growth in renewable electricity generation across the country since 2000.
Almost all states are already meeting or exceeding their RPS goals, meaning there’s a lot more room for improvement--and that there’s a bright future for renewable energy. Considering that renewable sources only account for under 7 percent of all electricity generated by utilities in 2016, we still have a long way to go. These energy portfolios have already proven themselves to be one of the most productive policies to promote renewable energy in the country -- and they’ll be even more important as the Trump administration looks to cut back federal programs supporting renewable energy.
But not all RPS programs are created equal. Unfortunately, some states include sources that are hardly “clean.” in Maryland, for instance, 42 percent of the state’s renewable energy is sourced to dirty sources including black liquor and waste incineration; in North Carolina, companies are required to buy electricity generated from poultry waste.
If we want to keep moving forward with the progress we’ve already made, we’ll need our state leaders to deliver on their promises to fight climate change. And that means strengthening these standards to promote truly clean energy.
Melany Rochester is a summer intern at Food & Water Watch.