Implementing renewable energy portfolio standards: The good, the bad, and the ugly in a two state comparison

Document Type


Publication Date



Understanding how household practices with regard to energy usage change and how to most effectively encourage the adoption of technologies that utilize renewable energy sources at the residential scale are important issues for addressing the environmental impacts of energy use. Here, the social practices model (Spaargaren, 2003) is applied to examine solar technology adopters in two U.S. States who were interviewed about adopting residential solar electric technology and specifically about their experiences with the rebate and incentive programs available to them. Examining the policies and interrogating their potentially unintended consequences from the perspective of the user sheds light on how residential solar incentive programs act as systems of provision, shaping the practices of solar technology adopters, in hopes of improving these incentive programs and effectively encouraging increased residential solar technology adoption. Findings suggest that feed-in tariffs offer additional positive outcomes related to broadening the context for adoption and encouraging future energy conservation while size restrictions, wholesale pricing in net metering agreements, and inconsistent policy mechanisms across utilities in the same state all have potentially unintended negative consequences. Utilizing a perspective attentive to social practice offers a means of improving the design and implementation of energy policy.

Publisher's Statement

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Publisher's version of record:

Publication Title

Energy Policy