[A guest post by a federal employee with over 30 years experience in energy and the environment (see "Utility decoupling on steroids").]
Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are the darling of energy and climate policy. Simple in concept, an RPS requires that a certain percentage of electricity supply come from renewable resources. Twenty-six states plus the district of Columbia have RPS requirements of one kind or another, and when it comes to federal energy and climate legislation, the one thing nearly everyone agrees on is the need for an RPS.
As usual, California is leading the pack with a goal getting 33% of their supply from renewables by 2020. Congress is considering a federal RPS between 10% and 15% by as early as 2015.
All fine and good, except for one thing – from a policy perspective, an RPS is the cart before the horse. The sizzle without the steak. The bark without the bite. The sound of one hand clapping. It’s the … oh you get the idea. It’s zen policy. Sexy, even necessary, but not sufficient, and certainly not the kind of coherent and systematic approach we need if we’re to avoid atmospheric levels of GHG in excess of 450 ppm and the hell on earth such a catastrophe would create.
What’s not to like about requiring that a certain percentage of our power come from clean, renewable energy?
Well, for starters, it’s only half a solution, and it’s the expensive half at that.