Two Markets, Overlapping Goals: Exploring the Intersection of RPS and Voluntary Markets for Renewable Energy in the U.S.

July 31, 2017

by Todd Jones (CRS) for CESA

State Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and voluntary markets for renewable energy in the United States share a common history — both began around the same time in the late 1990s with the expansion of retail choice and the advent of certificate trading. Since then, they have grown side by side and each has been a significant driver of renewable energy development. Twenty years later, they continue to share common accounting infrastructure — renewable energy certificates (RECs) and REC tracking systems. Perhaps most importantly, voluntary and RPS compliance markets share a common objective: more renewable energy delivered to grid customers.

This paper explores interactions between RPS and voluntary markets for renewable energy in the U.S. and outlines principles for supporting continued growth of both markets. These principles preserve the ability of each market to make separate and incremental contributions to renewable energy, uphold accurate accounting, reduce complexity, and increase participation.

This report was prepared by Todd Jones (Senior Manager, Policy and Climate Change Programs, Center for Resource Solutions) for the Clean Energy States Alliance.