The resources below describe key basic elements of an effective state clean energy program and offer tools for smart finance, market-building, and deployment of clean energy technologies in states and other sub-national entities. More information supporting specific technologies can be found in CESA's Project web pages and in the Resource Library.

A great resource to start with is CESA's Distributed Renewable Energy Finance and Policy Toolkit, which describes financing tools and policy options states can choose from when designing or improving upon an existing clean energy program.

Another resource, form US EPA, Assessing the Multiple Benefits of Clean Energy - A Resource for States (September 2011) helps state energy, environmental, and economic policy makers identify and quantify the many benefits of clean energy to support the development and implementation of cost-effective clean energy initiatives.

Clean Energy Program Finance Tools

All technologies:

Reduce Risk, Increase Clean Energy: How States and Cities Are Using Old Finance Tools to Scale Up a New Industry
This paper offers the first in-depth look at how communities are using well established public finance tools to reduce finance risk in clean energy, and creating a new path to reach capital markets to finance the ever increasing demand for clean energy. The Clean Energy and Bond Finance Initiative or CE+BFI (www.cebfi.org), a project of Clean Energy Goup (which manages CESA) and the Council of Development Finance Agenicies, released this report about the innovative and successful strategies employed by states and cities for financing clean energy projects, especially the creative uses of bonds to reduce the cost of capital. The paper points to particular financing strategies at the state and municipal level that can be adapted and implemented to accelerate the clean energy finance revolution in other states and cities, and at a federal level.

Distributed Renewable Energy Finance and Policy Toolkit:
This report describes the many financing options available to state energy offices, municipal governments, and other energy agencies for utilizing public funds for clean energy project support.

Developing an Effective State Clean Energy Program:  Renewable Energy Incentives
This best practice briefing paper summarizes approaches and practices that have worked effectively for state clean energy programs in providing small renewable project incentives.

Developing an Effective State Clean Energy Program: Competitive Grants:This best practice briefing paper summarizes innovative grant making approaches and practices that have worked effectively for state clean energy programs.

Developing an Effective State Clean Energy Program:  Clean Energy Loans
: The best practice briefing paper summarizes loan approaches and practices to support renewable energy projects.

Incentives for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Generation: State Revolving Loan Programs: This paper from Latham & Watkins, LLC describes clean energy revolving loan programs in operation across the U.S.

Solar:

A Review of Emerging State Finance Tools to Advance Solar Generation: This report provides an overview and specific examples of three creative finance tools that any state can use to support PV in the context of an existing RPS: solar set-asides, feed-in tariffs, and reverse auction mechanisms.

Property Tax Assessments as a Finance Vehicle for Residential PV Installations:  Opportunities and Potential Limitations: This  LBNL-CESA Case Study describes the mechanics of a new type of PV financing program recently proposed by the City of Berkeley that offers its residents the ability to utilize increased property tax assessments as a means of repaying over time the up-front cost of installing PV systems.

Wind:

State-based Financing Tools to Support Distributed and Community Wind Projects: This LBNL-CESA Case Study describes the mechanics of a new type of PV financing program recently proposed by the City of Berkeley that offers its residents the ability to utilize increased property tax assessments as a means of repaying over time the up-front cost of installing PV systems.

A Learning Investment-based Analysis of the Economic Potential for Offshore Wind: The Case of the United States, by The Bratte Group: Weiss, Sarro, and Berkman. This report prepared by economists at The Brattle Group provides an independent economic analysis of the impact of developing an entire offshore wind industry in the United States. The report was prepared for the Center for American Progress, the US Offshore Wind Coalition, Clean Energy States Alliance, and the Sierra Club. The study finds that an investment between $18.5 and $52 billion from 2014 to 2030 may be sufficient to enable offshore wind in the United States to compete with conventional and alternative renewable energy sources. Additionally, the investment would produce only modest increases in the average consumer’s monthly bill – in the range of $0.25 to $2.08 if the cost is spread across all electricity consumers in the United States, and between $0.51 and $4.29 if the cost is confined to only those states where offshore wind would be deployed, primarily in the Atlantic coast and Great Lakes region. February 2013.

Collaborative Procurement of Offshore Wind Energy - A Buyers Network: Assessment of Merits and Approaches, by Mark Sinclair, Melissa Haugh, Baird Brown, and Carolyn Elefant. The Offshore Wind Accelerator Project released a comprehensive analysis of the value of "collaborative aggregated procurement" of offshore wind power. This report describes the concept of a buyers network for offshore wind energy, essentially a consortium of creditworthy purchasers (including utilities, state and federal agencies, and large private commercial and/or institutional entities) that enter into long-term contracts with a developer(s) for a project’s generation. By creating economies of scale, a buyers network can spread fixed costs, such as transmission lines, over larger-scale wind farms; lower construction costs from efficiencies; reduce concentration of risk; and reduce capital costs, resulting in cost-competitive offshore wind power. The report, prepared for the Offshore Wind Accelerator Project, provides recommendations and an action plan for creating a successful buyers network. September 2012.

Clean Energy Program Policy Tools

All technologies:

Using State RPSs to Promote Resilient Power at Critical Infrastructure Facilities, by Todd Olinsky-Paul, Project Director, CESA. This short report, prepared for the State-Federal RPS Collaborative, a project of CESA, explores whether RPSs could be used to help address the the problem of electric grid failures from severe storms. June 2013.

Environmental Rules for Hydropower in State Renewable Portfolio Standards, by Val Stori, Project Director, CESA. This paper looks at various approaches states have taken in their RPS policies to safeguard the environment when hydropower is developed. It describes the rules for hydropower qualification, especially those having to do with environmental standards. April 2013.

Designing the Right RPS: A Guide to Selecting Goals and Program Options for a Renewable Portfolio Standard, by Warren Leon, Senior Advisor, CESA; prepared for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the State-Federal RPS Collaborative. This report will be especially useful to states considering establishing a new RPS, it should also be helpful to states that are considering RPS program modifications. The report draws heavily on a previous study produced for the Vermont Public Service Board and NARUC and includes more general information. March 2012.

Evaluating Renewable Energy Programs: A Guide for Program Managers, by Warren Leon, CESA Senior Advisor. This CESA report considers program evaluation from the perspective of a program manager rather than an evaluator. It suggests how to ensure that evaluation activities are useful, cost-effective, and well-received by program staff, policymakers, and stakeholders. It discusses how to select an evaluator, and it recommends how to approach and choose among different types of evaluations: needs and market assessments, process evaluations, outcome evaluations, and cost-benefit evaluations. New program managers can use the report as an introduction to evaluation while more experienced managers may want to read relevant sections as the need arises. June 15, 2011

Distributed Renewable Energy Finance and Policy Toolkit: This report describes the many financing options available to state energy offices, municipal governments, and other energy agencies for utilizing public funds for clean energy project support.

Developing an Effective State Clean Energy Program:  A Blueprint for Success: This best practice briefing paper summarizes innovative approaches and practices that have worked effectively for state clean energy programs across the country and focuses on programmatic activities and administrative issues.

Solar:

Smart Solar Marketing Strategies: This CESA report provides marketing best practices on how to address barriers to solar market growth. The report serves as a guide for states in pursuing their market planning process.According to the report, by acting more like retailers selling a product, state solar programs have the potential to sharply increase PV purchases and installations.

Mainstreaming Solar Electricity: Strategies for States to Build Local Markets
: This CESA report describes the key policies and program strategies that have emerged as effective tools for states to advance widespread solar deployment.

CESA State Program Guide:  State Strategies to Foster Solar Hot Water System Deployment: This report describes a number of straightforward strategies that states can implement to support adoption of solar hot water technologies, including provision of financial incentives, training for installers, and education to help customers make informed decisions.

Wind:

Supporting On-Site Distributed Wind Generation Projects: This state wind energy program guide for state clean energy fund managers and policymakers that support the installation of on-site, behind-the-meter wind turbines at private businesses and municipal and other public facilities.

CESA Best Practice Recommendation: Visual Impacts Assessment Process for Evaluating Wind-Energy Projects: This CESA memo describes a process and approach for evaluating the visual impact of wind-energy projects.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells:

Fuel Cells: Briefing Papers for State Policy Makers, by Clean Energy States Alliance.This CESA report addresses the merits, policies, and value applications of stationary fuel cells. The series of briefing papers contained in the report are designed to introduce state leaders to the increasing deployment of fuel cells for stationary power applications. Stationary fuel cells are a technology that today is commercially viable, reliable, suitable to a wide variety of applications, declining in costs, and becoming affordable. We hope this report will help you to realize the potential of fuel cell market development in your state through proactive state policies, use of the technology in critical public applications, and by increasing the technology’s public visibility. August 2011.

Advancing Stationary Fuel Cells Through State Policies: This report provides basic information on state policies to advance the fuel cell industry.

Selected Links:

State Clean Energy: Financing Guidebook: The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices released this comprehensive guidebook in January 2011. This guidebook helps states consider three key elements of a clean energy financing program: sources of capital, program selection and design, and implementation strategy.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Here you can learn the basics on renewable energy technologies and resources (wind, solar, water, biomass, geothermal, and hydrogen), as well as energy efficiency basics, along with EERE's compendium of best practices and potential funding opportunities.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL): NREL provides R&D support for the U.S. DOE, along with a whole host of free analysis tools for use by state clean energy programs. Analysis at NREL aims to increase the understanding of the current and future interactions and roles of energy policies, markets, resources, technologies, environmental impacts, and infrastructure. These analyses are used to inform decisions as energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies advance from concept to commercial application.  Tools include the Jobs and Economic Development Impact model (JEDI), renewable energy maps, and renewable energy market data. NREL also provides a best practices series, the State Clean Energy Policy Analysis project (SCEPA).

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) State and Local Climate and Energy Program: EPA's State and Local Climate and Energy Program provides technical assistance, analytical tools, and outreach support to state, local, and tribal governments. Specific assistance includes:

  • Identifying and documenting cost-effective policies and initiatives that address climate change, including those that promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and related clean technologies.
  • Measuring and evaluating the environmental, economic, and public health benefits of climate change and clean energy initiatives.
  • Offering tools, guidance, and outreach support for assessing the options and benefits of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Fostering peer exchange opportunities for state and local officials to share information on best practices and lessons learned about innovative policies and programs.

Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE): DSIRE  provides comprehensive information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote clean energy. 

This report provides an overview and specific examples of three creative finance tools that any state can use to support PV in the context of an existing RPS: solar set-asides, feed-in tariffs, and reverse auction mechanisms.