Jordan Schrader of USA Today manages to pen a long piece about the profusion of state renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) without discussing, except in the most glancing, cursory fashion, any of the important issues around them.
For instance, he notes that some people say RPSs will raise electricity rates, while others say they will ultimately save ratepayers money. Who’s right? Which RPSs have raised rates and which haven’t? How do different RPSs address costs?
Renewable resources are defined differently in each state, but primarily as cleaner alternatives to coal that do not produce as much greenhouse gases.
This is absolutely the central question of an RPS: what counts as renewable? Does energy efficiency? Does cogeneration? Does “clean” coal? Does nuclear? How these questions are answered decisively affects how things will play out, but we learn nothing about it from the article.
Also going without mention is: if one state has one standard for its RPS, and an adjoining state has a different standard, can utilities trade credits between states? And if not, how does that affect prices?
The piece also mentions that some states have met their targets, but others haven’t, or can’t. But how does the design of the RPS affect a state’s ability to hit its target?
Anyway, all this bitching is just to get you to go back and read this post, and the referenced report (PDF), which discusses state RPSs in great detail and makes a powerful case that a national RPS would lower costs, accelerate development of clean power, and generally serve the various purposes of RPSs far better than a patchwork of state efforts.