Renewable portfolio standards spread

By Susanne Retka Schill
This spring, Oregon and New Hampshire joined the list of states with renewable portfolio standards (RPS)-sometimes called renewable power or renewable electricity standards-bringing the total to 24 states, plus the District of Columbia. These standards require a certain percentage of a utility's electrical generation to come from renewable sources by a given date. The list of participating states doesn't include Illinois, which has voluntary goals.

About half of the RPS programs require 15 percent renewable energy or less, and the other half requires higher standards. Half requires the standard be met by 2020 or sooner. Maine has the highest standard of 30 percent from renewable sources, which has already been met. Four states have an RPS requiring 25 percent renewable: Oregon, Minnesota and New Hampshire require 25 percent by 2025, and New York requires 25 percent by 2013. For details on each state's RPS, visit

Five states were considering RPS legislation at press time: Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina and Virginia. Iowa and Illinois may expand existing legislation.

A national standard is being discussed in the U.S. Congress. The Senate had passed an RPS in various energy bills in previous sessions, but it didn't pass the House, and the provision wasn't in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., has introduced a House bill in the current Congressional session that would require 20 percent renewable energy by 2020. In the Senate, competing measures have been introduced. Sen. Jeff Bingham, D-N.M., proposed a 15 percent RPS by 2020. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., proposed 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, calling it a clean portfolio standard that would include nuclear power and clean coal technologies.