Renewable power still requires government support to challenge fossil fuels. Policies can help lower prices, increase supply and generate more demand.

Massachusetts has been successful at increasing the quantity of clean power generation. However, the government also needs to address demand for it. 

According to a May study by Synapse Energy Economics and Sustainable Energy Advantage for the Northeast Clean Energy Council and the Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, “An Analysis of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard” uses modeling to examine the potential effect on capacity and pricing of various changes to the standard in the future. The state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) has been an important tool in its push toward a cleaner energy mix. However, with new goals in place for greenhouse gas emissions, the study states the standard needs to be more aggressive.

Currently, the Massachusetts RPS requires energy suppliers to provide at least 11 percent of customers’ power from renewable sources. That must increase by 1 percent per year until it reaches 25 percent in 2030. Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. To fulfill this requirement, the state will need to ramp up its RPS.

Currently, the state’s policies, including long-term contracting requirements, are doing an adequate job of creating a healthy supply of renewable power. That supply will exceed demand unless the rules are adjusted.

This imbalance could affect the prices of renewable energy credits, which are an important element in the state’s renewable-energy market. This drop in prices could undermine the state’s efforts.

The study recommends that policymakers in Massachusetts increase the annual RPS targets from 1 percent to 2 percent to bolster demand and keep the market in balance.