BOX 1.1

Major Policy Milestones for Non-Hydropower Renewable Electricity

1978

Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act enacted, requiring public utilities to purchase power from qualifying renewable facilities.

1978

Energy Tax Act provided personal income tax credits and business tax credits for renewables.

1980

Federal R&D for renewable energy peaked at $1.3 billion ($3 billion in 2004 dollars).

1980

Windfall Profits Tax Act gave tax credits for alternative fuels production and alcohol fuel blending.

1992

California delayed property tax credits for solar thermal (also known as concentrating solar) power, which caused investment to stop.

1994

Federal production tax credit (PTC) for renewable electricity took effect as part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

1996

Net metering laws started to take effect in many states.

1997

States began establishing policies for renewables portfolio standards (RPSs) and public benefits funds (PBFs) as part of state electricity restructuring.

2000

Federal PTC expired in 1999 and was not renewed until late in the year, causing the wind industry to suffer a major downturn in 2000. The PTC also expired in 2002 and 2004, both times causing a major slowing in capacity additions.

2001

Some states began to mandate that utilities offer green power products to their customers.

2004

Five new states enacted RPSs in a single year, bringing the total to 18 states plus the District of Columbia; PBFs were operating in 15 states.

2005

Energy Policy Act extended the PTC for wind and biomass for 2 years and provided additional tax credits for other renewables, including solar, geothermal, and ocean energy.

2007

Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 provided support for accelerating research and development on solar, geothermal, advanced hydropower, and electricity storage.

2008

27 states and the District of Columbia had enacted RPSs, and another 6 states had adopted goals for renewable electricity.

2008

Emergency Economic Stabilization Act extended the PTC for 1 year and the investment tax credit for residential and commercial solar through 2016.

2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act extended the PTC for wind through 2012 and the PTC for municipal solid waste, biopower, geothermal, hydrokinetic, and some hydropower through 2013. It also provided funding for research and updating of the electricity grid.

Source: Updated from Martinot et al. (2005).



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