State policies designed to encourage renewable growth are the best way we’ll win the fight for a clean energy future. But some states have policies that actually count dirty energy sources like garbage incineration as “renewable.”
According to our new issue brief, “Ensuring the Renewable Energy Promise of Renewable Portfolio Standards,” 60 percent of the renewable electricity production since 2000 can be chalked up to state policies that require utilities to buy renewable energy. And most states have passed their original goals, meaning there’s room to be even more ambitious about setting renewable targets.
Unfortunately, these mandatory renewable portfolio standards (RPS) sometimes 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.
As the issue brief notes, RPS programs can get the United States to 40 percent renewables by 2050. But if we’re going to stop the worst effects of climate change, our state leaders need to set more ambitious targets, and make sure they stop the use of dirty energy like garbage incineration.