The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have jointly published a handbook detailing how states can incorporate renewable energy into their state plans to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan, the proposed regulation to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants.
‘A Handbook for the States: Incorporating Renewable Energy into State Compliance Plans for EPA's Clean Power Plan’ interprets the more than 1,000 pages of the draft EPA rule and technical support documents and provides step-by-step guidance on how to incorporate renewable energy into the state's compliance plans.
The handbook details the benefits of using renewable energy as a compliance tool, including the consumer benefits created by integrating low-cost renewables, and provides access to dozens of in-depth renewable integration studies confirming that significant amounts of wind and solar energy can be added to the power system without harming reliability.
According to AWEA, wind energy's costs have fallen by more than half in just five years and wind is considered, by far, the lowest-cost generation option for reducing electric-sector carbon emissions. Installed solar system prices, meanwhile, have dropped by 49% since 2010.
State officials can also use the handbook to calculate the carbon reductions from wind and solar energy and to track and credit such reductions. The handbook includes two sample frameworks for model state compliance plans using renewable energy as the key tool to meet the carbon reduction targets.
The handbook also notes obtaining 4.5% of U.S. electricity from wind has already cut electric=sector carbon emissions by more than 5% and reduced U.S. emissions by 126 million short tons of carbon dioxide in 2013 – equal to 20 million cars' worth of emissions. Cutting carbon emissions from wind energy will rapidly create added benefits for consumers and the U.S. economy as it scales up, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's recently released Wind Vision.
By the end of 2016, the amount of installed solar capacity in the U.S. is expected to double, growing from 20 GW to 40 GW – benefitting both the economy and environment – with the expected reductions in carbon emissions reaching the equivalent of shuttering 10 coal-fired plants.
U.S. wind power added significantly more new electricity than any other resource in 2014, with cumulative installed capacity increasing 8% to a total of 65,879 MW. Once recently added U.S. wind projects have had a full year of production, total wind output will rise to power the equivalent of 18 million homes.
AWEA and SEIA are urging Congress to extend the production tax credit and investment tax credit to ensure that wind and solar will be ready – and at scale – to keep U.S. air clean, reduce consumer costs, drive business development and create thousands of new domestic jobs once there is a policy that appropriately values carbon-free electricity.
The handbook will be updated after the EPA releases its final rule, which is expected this summer, notes AWEA.