Innovation, Renewable Energy, and State Investment: Case Studies of Leading Clean Energy Funds

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Over the last several years, many U.S. states have established clean energy funds to help support the growth of renewable energy markets. Most often funded by system-benefits charges (SBC), the 15 states that have established such funds are slated to collect nearly $3.5 billion from 1998 to 2012 for renewable energy investments. These clean energy funds are expected to have a sizable impact on the energy future of the states in which the funds are being collected and used. For many of the organizations tapped to administer these funds, however, this is a relatively new role that presents the challenge of using public funds in the most effective and innovative fashion possible. Fortunately, each state is not alone in its efforts; many other U.S. states and a number of countries are undertaking similar efforts. Early lessons are beginning to be learned by clean energy funds about how to effectively target public funds towards creating and building renewable energy markets. A number of innovative programs have already been developed that show significant leadership by U.S. states in supporting renewable energy. It is important that clean energy fund administrators learn from this emerging experience. This report contributes to that learning by compiling, in a case study format, information on innovative renewable energy programs and administrative practices from U.S. and international clean energy funds. These innovative programs and practices are those that have worked – or that promise to work – effectively for similar organizations in the U.S. and worldwide, and that might therefore merit further investigation, adaptation, or emulation by other clean energy fund administrators. This report was originally funded by and prepared for the Energy Trust of Oregon (Energy Trust), a nonprofit organization created in part to invest SBC funds into renewable energy projects in Oregon. The Energy Trust was seeking to identify innovative renewable energy programs and administrative practices from other jurisdictions. (The Energy Trust was also interested in identifying the organizational and programmatic "pitfalls" that other funds had experienced; these results will be provided in a separate report.)

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