State Policies Key to Clean Energy Development

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States’ policies are important to solar and wind energy development and in reducing – report from NREL

States’ policies are important to solar and wind energy development and in reducing energy use says a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The findings are in report, State of the States 2010: The Role of Policy in Clean Energy Market Transformation.

“This report shows the importance of the state and local policy in encouraging clean energy market development,” said Mike Pacheco, NREL vice president of Deployment & Market Transformation. “Specifically, state policymakers may be more effective at driving clean energy investment using a suite of policies and keeping the policies in place longer.”

Building on an emerging body of literature identifying connections between state policy and renewable energy, the State of States 2010 report quantifies the connection between state clean energy policies, renewable energy development and actual reductions in energy use. . Renewable energy use increased 3 percent across the United States in 2010, the report says.

It is the first time energy efficiency has been considered in this type of analysis, and the report shows significant connections between reduced energy use and building codes, electricity prices and, in some cases, energy efficiency resource standards. Even though state policies might apply to a wide variety of renewable energy resources, the analysis shows that most often there’s a relationship between policy and solar and wind development. So, if states tailor policy to other resources, it might help increase development of renewable energy sources in addition to solar and wind.

“State policy efforts can help sustain the good work started by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in creating economic development opportunities through clean energy,” said LeAnn M. Oliver, DOE Weatherization & Intergovernmental Program Manager. “State of the States 2010 offers practical information to policymakers on how to further promote those policies.”

To track the progress of the states and regions toward a clean energy economy, NREL also provided the analysis and findings for DOE’s 2009 U.S. State Clean Energy Data Book. The data book, published in October 2010, summarizes the status of state-level energy efficiency and renewable energy developments and supporting policy implementation, and can be accessed as a PDF and as an interactive data analysis tool. It identifies the states and regions leading in overall renewable energy capacity and energy efficiency policy. Key findings include:

  • In 2009, Maine had the largest percentage—23 percent—of non-hydro renewable generation, mostly from bioenergy.
  • Texas leads the country in total non-hydro installed renewable energy capacity.
  • California is the leader in solar energy installed capacity.
  • Oregon, California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania have the strictest building codes, which require high efficiency in commercial and residential construction.

NREL provided the analysis for both the State of the States 2010 report and the U.S. State Clean Energy Data Book under its Clean Energy Policy Analyses project. To learn more about CEPA, visit

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

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