A Prospective Analysis of the Costs, Benefits, and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards

Jenny Heeter, Trieu Mai, David Keyser, Venkat Krishnan, Jordan Macknick, Ryan Wiser, Galen Barbose, Dev Millstein, Lori Bird

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This report evaluates the future costs, benefits, and other impacts of renewable energy used to meet current state renewable portfolio standards (RPSs). It also examines a future scenario where RPSs are expanded. The analysis examines changes in electric system costs and retail electricity prices, which include all fixed and operating costs, including capital costs for all renewable, non-renewable, and supporting (e.g., transmission and storage) electric sector infrastructure; fossil fuel, uranium, and biomass fuel costs; and plant operations and maintenance expenditures. The analysis evaluates three specific benefits: air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and water use. It also analyzes two other impacts, renewable energy workforce and economic development, and natural gas price suppression. This analysis finds that the benefits or renewable energy used to meet RPS polices exceed the costs, even when considering the highest cost and lowest benefit outcomes.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages73
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note


NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-67455


  • air pollution
  • cost-benefit analysis
  • economic development
  • greenhouse gas
  • prospective analysis
  • renewable energy
  • renewable portfolio standards
  • state policy
  • water


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