The American West is home to some of the best renewable energy potential in the country. Thanks to policies encouraging the development of new clean energy resources, solar, wind, geothermal, and bioenergy generation facilities are being built in many Western states.


California leads the nation in the development of clean energy resources, in large part due to its Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires its utilities to source 50 percent of retail electricity sales from renewable energy by 2030. Both private and public utilities are required to meet this standard. Now California is looking ahead beyond 2030 to consider how to increase renewable energy even further and achieve even greater reductions of global warming emissions.

California has several other key policies that support the development of renewable energy. In addition to the RPS, the state has programs that encourage small-scale investments that help homes and businesses supply their own electricity needs, such as rooftop solar.

California has also directed utilities to prioritize energy efficiency and renewables before making additional investments in fossil fuels. And the state is requiring utilities to invest in energy storage, which will help make use of wind and solar energy even when the sun is down or the wind isn’t blowing.

Thanks to all of these policies, the state is well on its way to making a transition to cleaner, safer, and more sustainable electricity.

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A model for other states

These commitments are not just good news for California, but for other states as well. As new policies and technologies enable the deployment of much larger amounts of clean energy onto the electricity grid than ever before, California can serve as a model for other states that are transitioning to a cleaner, more resilient electricity system.

Like California, many Western states have standards requiring utilities to purchase renewable energy, including Oregon, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Regional coordination among these states is a key strategy to integrating more renewable energy into the electricity system.

Learn more: Climate, Energy, and Vehicles in the West >

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