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United States

AWEA 2016: RPS cost $12/MWh in 2014

UNITED STATES: Compliance with renewable portfolio standards (RPS) cost US consumers an average $12/MWh in 2014 - or a total of $2.6 billion.

California's RPS requires 50% of electricity from renewables by 2030
California's RPS requires 50% of electricity from renewables by 2030

That equates to 1.3% of retail electricity bills, said Ryan Wiser of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory during a session on RPSs, which have been adopted in 29 states and Washington DC.

However, the benefits of RPSs in terms of lower greenhouse emissions and pollution totalled a far higher $7.4 billion, almost three times as high as the costs. Benefits include reduced healthcare costs.

Wiser noted that most analysts predict RPSs to lead to 3GW of new wind a year from 2015 to 2030. Wind so far represents 64% of the 57GW of renewable electricity in states with RPSs, he said.

In some states with aggressive RPSs — as in the case of California, where the requirement is 50% by 2030 — the RPS will still remain relevant even in an era of Obama's Clean Power Plan.

In these states, the CPP could be a "floor not a ceiling", said Wiser. He also noted that implementation of the CPP has been halted by a court, thus RPSs are currently a crucial state-level policy driver.

New York's goal of 50% renewables by 2030 is ambitious, said Anne Reynolds of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York.

"The pace of development will have to pick up if we are to get anywhere near this." The bulk of renewables in the state so far is hydro.

The state's Clean Energy Standard Cost Study has projected that wind could contribute just under half of the new capacity needed to meet New York's RPS.

Specifically, the study projects that new onshore wind could total 4.1GW and new offshore wind 1GW by 2030, Reynolds added.

Even so, costs of renewables have to come down and build has to be incentivised. Getting to 50% in New York will be a challenge, she said.

Renewables advocates have been telling the state decision-makers, "If you really want to get to 50%, you will have to provide PPAs [power purchase agreements]," she said.

But panellists agreed that wind and solar costs have down so much that 50% is realistically achievable in states with aggressive RPSs.

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