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May 06, 2020
Report by Brattle Consultants Evaluates Strategies to Increase Renewable Resource Access for Commercial and Industrial Customers

Consultants at The Brattle Group have developed a report in collaboration with the REBA Institute (an affiliate of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance) that identifies and evaluates the potential pathways that increase access to and decrease costs of renewable energy resource for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers in the U.S. Among its findings, the report concludes that expanding supply options to customers has the greatest technical potential to provide a fast and cost-effective path to increase renewable energy access.

The report analyzes three overarching policy pathways to increase renewable energy procurement for C&I sector customers between now and 2030:

  1. Advancing state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that would accelerate renewable energy procurement for all customers
  2. Expanding utilities’ renewable energy purchasing programs available to the C&I sector
  3. Introducing supply choice for the C&I sector

The report notes that despite having a large potential for increased build out of renewable capacity in many states, the actual amount of renewable energy built by 2030 to meet C&I customers’ procurement demand at low costs will highly depend on: (a) the starting point of each state’s regulatory and market structure; (b) the choices that each state makes in terms of participating in a centrally organized wholesale market and allowing customers to choose their supply resources; (c) the renewable resources available in the vicinity of each state; (d) the cost of those renewable energy resources; and (e) the amount of headroom capacity created by retiring fossil generation. In analyzing these factors across eight sample U.S. states, the report finds that:

  • Allowing customers to choose their supplies can directly expand access to renewable energy resources, potentially up to 100 percent of their needs, while reduce the cost of renewable energy procurement.
  • Utility subscription programs in states where C&I customers cannot choose their supplies provide attractive near-term opportunities to improve C&I customer access to renewables.
  • Moderate RPS expansions beyond the status quo by 2030 have the potential to “green the grid” for all customers, but do not provide direct customer procurement options or C&I customers’ ability to go beyond state renewable targets.

Despite varying strategies and levels of opportunity by state, the Brattle authors note that there is great potential to increase the C&I customers’ procurement of new renewables in the U.S., both in the near and long term. There is also a great deal of commonality in the results within market types and the high-level conclusions are largely transferable to other states even if regional opportunities still need to be tailored to local conditions.

The Renewable Energy Policy Pathways Report is authored by Brattle consultants Judy Chang, Sanem Sergici, Kasparas Spokas, Maria Castaner, and Peter Jones.