Risk management strategies and portfolio analysis for electricity generation planning and integration of renewable portfolio standards

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Ritter, Stephanie Michelle

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Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) require electricity providers to supply a minimum fixed percentage or total quantity of customer load from designated renewable energy resources by a given date. These policies have become increasingly prevalent in the past decade as state governments seek to increase the use of renewable energy sources. As a policy tool, RPS provide a cost-effective, market-based approach for meeting targets which promote greater use of renewable energy in both regulated and deregulated markets.
To facilitate the obtainment of Renewable Portfolio Standards, most states allow the trading of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). RECs represent the environmental attributes of renewable energy generation which are decoupled from the generated power. These credits are created along with the generation of renewable energy, decoupled from energy generation, tracked by regional systems, and eventually purchased by retail suppliers to fulfill their RPS obligations. As of April 2010, RPS have been passed into law in 29 states and Washington D.C. and an additional 6 states have non-mandatory renewable portfolio goals however the U.S. government has yet to enact a Federal Renewable Portfolio Standard. Although the final requirements and details of a Federal RPS are undecided, federal standards would be unlikely to preempt or override state programs which are already in place. A key concern regarding the passage of a federal RPS is that a national REC market would result in a shift of wealth from states with few renewable energy resources and limited resource potential to regions richer in renewable resources. Because of the implications that a federal renewable portfolio standard would have on the economy, the environment, and the equitable treatment of all the states, many issues and concerns must be resolved before federal standards will be passed into law. A theoretical case study for an electric utility generation planning decision that includes obligations to meet Renewable Portfolio Standard is presented here. A framework is provided that allows decision makers and strategic planning teams to: assess their business situation, identify objectives of generation planning, determine the relative weights of the objectives, recognize tradeoffs, and create an efficient portfolio using Portfolio Theory. The case study follows the business situation for Austin Energy as it seeks to meet Texas State RPS and mandates set by Austin City Council and prepares for potential National RPS legislation.



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