What Do State Renewable Portfolio Standards Mean for Carbon Intensity?

In the last two decades, 31 states have passed renewable portfolio standards (RPS) into law that are aimed at increasing the portion of state energy that is sourced from renewable, typically non-carbon-emitting, resources. In many states, such standards were not explicitly meant to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, although given the energy sources they promote […]

Mixing and Matching Electricity Sector Policies

A number of concerns have emerged over the last decade about climate change, energy security, and energy efficiency, inspiring an equally long list of proposed policy fixes. The majority of these options, including renewables subsidies, performance standards, and emissions pricing schemes, apply directly to the power sector. Lawmakers can also choose to implement multiple policies […]

How the Cold Snapped Clean Currents

Renewable power retailer Clean Currents will no longer provide electricity to its 15,000+ customers, as it had reliably done since 2005. Co-founders Gary Skulnik and Charlie Segerman announced on Friday that the company has shut its doors forever. Why? In a blog post to its customers, the duo explains that the recent severe cold weather […]

RFF/Stanford/USA Today Poll Shows Majority Support for Regulating Power Plant GHG Emissions

The first round of results from the RFF/Stanford/USA Today poll was released today and it shows that a majority of the US favors doing something to address the threat of climate change, although there is substantially less agreement about what exactly to do. There’s a lot to dig into that’s relevant to climate policy options we […]

Taxing Electricity’s Carbon Emissions at Social Cost

A national tax on carbon emissions would offer an opportunity for deficit reduction and/or tax reform, as well as climate change mitigation. Economists studying taxes on environmental harms, such as carbon emissions, often suggest that the tax be set according to the damage inflicted by the last unit of emissions. In the case of carbon, […]

Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Analysis Deconstructed: Changing Assumptions, Changing Results

EPA regulations on mercury and other air pollutants currently under review are the subject of much debate for their potential costs and impacts on the electricity industry. In a new discussion paper, RFF colleagues and I examine the assumptions behind several studies that have analyzed the potential effects of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, […]

The IMF Takes on Energy Subsidies

It has long and widely been accepted that subsidies that promote the production and consumption of energy – thereby disguising its real cost to society – do little to benefit mankind. On the output side, second-guessing the market distorts firms’ decisions about optimal investment strategies. Among users, access to below-cost energy encourages waste, with environmental […]

Do Renewables Policies Promote Valuable Investments?

Last month, a big battle over the production tax credit (PTC) for wind ended with Congress granting a one-year extension. This month, the focus has shifted to another renewable energy policy: state renewable portfolio standards (RPSs). Just this week, the Heartland Institute recommended repealing Kansas’s RPS—the latest addition in a growing attack on state RPSs. […]

Why the Wind Tax Credit is a Bad Way to Cut Carbon

Eligibility for the wind energy production tax credit (PTC), established by Congress in 1992, is set to expire at the end of this month, causing calls for action and inaction. Is this policy change a big deal for carbon emissions? Let’s take a closer look. Currently,  the PTC provides renewable power projects with a corporate […]

Less Coal, More Gas, Less Carbon, Cheaper Power

Brad Plumer at the Washington Post wrote yesterday that coal power generation in the U.S. is in sharp decline—but market forces, not environmental regulation, are driving the recent trend according to analysis in a new Brattle Group report. The primary reason is natural gas prices. RFF research generally bears this out—and indicates that it should […]