An energy carve-out is a government mandate to promote a specific kind of energy source, such as solar energy. Actually, solar is a favorite carve out in states.

In a previous blog ECC defined a REPS, or Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (sometimes just RPS). That is when government policies say that a certain amount of total electricity needs to be generated with renewable energy. It can be any kind of energy that the state defines as renewable – solar, hydro, wind, wave…

REPS are meant to stimulate growth of renewable energy. A carve out is put in place to stimulate the growth of a certain kind of electric generation.

Here are examples:

  • Colorado has a distributed generation (DG) carve out, requiring 3% of retail electricity sales to come from on-site sources (including solar) by 2020. (Source)
  • Maryland required the state to generate 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and include 14.5% solar and add at least 1,200 MW of offshore wind. “The remaining portion is to come from Tier 1 renewable resources, which includes burning waste, a point of contention among lawmakers and environmentalists earlier in the legislative session.” (Source in 2012)
  • Illinois – “The state currently gets about 8 percent of its energy from renewable energy resources, and existing law calls for reaching 25 percent renewables by 2025. Meeting 45 percent of the state’s electricity needs with renewables by 2030, as the new legislation stipulates, would require deploying an estimated 24,000 megawatts of new solar and wind.” (Source)

A website maintained by NC State University is a repository for renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates in the United States. The site has details about North Carolina and South Carolina renewable energy regulations.

The recently released NC Clean Energy Plan is a stake in the ground for future regulations.

NC REPS mandates specific amounts of production from the following resources by 2021: solar, swine waste, and poultry waste (the last two count as biomass). 0.02 percent production from solar was required beginning in 2010 and increasing to 0.2 by 2021; 0.07 percent production from swine waste was required beginning in 2014, increasing to 0.2 percent by 2021.

Why would a state designate a certain kind of energy generation? Legislators may feel that kind of power generation is critical to the energy portfolio of the state, that the generation has a positive economic or environmental impact. It may also be that the renewable energy industry or its lieutenants had effective communication with the legislators. Could be both.