IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Economic Effects of Interregional Trading of Renewable Energy Certificates in the U.S. WECC


  • Andres P. Perez, Enzo E. Sauma, Francisco D. Munoz, and Benjamin F. Hobbs


In the U.S., individual states enact Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPSs) for renewable electricity production with little coordination. Each state imposes restrictions on the amounts and locations of qualifying renewable generation. Using a co-optimization (transmission and generation) planning model, we quantify the long run economic benefits of allowing flexibility in the trading of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) among the U.S. states belonging to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). We characterize flexibility in terms of the amount and geographic eligibility of out-of-state RECs that can be used to meet a state’s RPS goal. Although more trade would be expected to have economic benefits, neither the size of these benefits nor the effects of such trading on infrastructure investments, CO2 emissions and energy prices have been previously quantified. We find that up to 90% of the economic benefits are captured if approximately 25% of unbundled RECs are allowed to be acquired from out of state. Furthermore, increasing REC trading flexibility does not necessarily result in either higher transmission investment costs or a substantial impact on CO2 emissions. Finally, increasing REC trading flexibility decreases energy prices in some states and increases them elsewhere, while the WECC-wide average energy price decreases.

Suggested Citation

  • Andres P. Perez, Enzo E. Sauma, Francisco D. Munoz, and Benjamin F. Hobbs, 2016. "The Economic Effects of Interregional Trading of Renewable Energy Certificates in the U.S. WECC," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:ej37-4-sauma

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to IAEE members and subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tanachai Limpaitoon, Yihsu Chen, and Shmuel S. Oren, 2014. "The Impact of Imperfect Competition in Emission Permits Trading on Oligopolistic Electricity Markets," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    2. Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2011. "The policy challenges of tradable credits: A critical review of eight markets," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 575-585, February.
    3. James Bushnell & Carla Peterman & Catherine Wolfram, 2008. "Local Solutions to Global Problems: Climate Change Policies and Regulatory Jurisdiction," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(2), pages 175-193, Summer.
    4. Francisco Munoz & Enzo Sauma & Benjamin Hobbs, 2013. "Approximations in power transmission planning: implications for the cost and performance of renewable portfolio standards," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 305-338, June.
    5. Berendt, Christopher B., 2006. "A State-Based Approach to Building a Liquid National Market for Renewable Energy Certificates: The REC-EX Model," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 54-68, June.
    6. Sauma, Enzo, 2012. "The impact of transmission constraints on the emissions leakage under cap-and-trade program," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 164-171.
    7. Mozumder, Pallab & Marathe, Achla, 2004. "Gains from an integrated market for tradable renewable energy credits," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 259-272, July.
    8. Kung, Harold H., 2012. "Impact of deployment of renewable portfolio standard on the electricity price in the State of Illinois and implications on policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 425-430.
    9. Cory, Karlynn S. & Swezey, Blair G., 2007. "Renewable Portfolio Standards in the States: Balancing Goals and Rules," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 21-32, May.
    10. Thomas P. Lyon & Haitao Yin, 2010. "Why Do States Adopt Renewable Portfolio Standards?: An Empirical Investigation," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 133-158.
    11. Paul L. Joskow, 2011. "Comparing the Costs of Intermittent and Dispatchable Electricity Generating Technologies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 238-241, May.
    12. Fischer, Carolyn & Newell, Richard G., 2008. "Environmental and technology policies for climate mitigation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 142-162, March.
    13. Vajjhala, Shalini & Paul, Anthony & Sweeney, Richard & Palmer, Karen, 2008. "Green Corridors: Linking Interregional Transmission Expansion and Renewable Energy Policies," Discussion Papers dp-08-06, Resources For the Future.
    14. Kahn, Edward, 2010. "Wind Integration Studies: Optimization vs. Simulation," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 23(9), pages 51-64, November.
    15. Miguel Pérez de Arce and Enzo Sauma, 2016. "Comparison of Incentive Policies for Renewable Energy in an Oligopolistic Market with Price-Responsive Demand," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    16. Wiser, Ryan & Namovicz, Christopher & Gielecki, Mark & Smith, Robert, 2007. "The Experience with Renewable Portfolio Standards in the United States," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 8-20, May.
    17. Mack, Joel H. & Gianvecchio, Natasha & Campopiano, Marc T. & M. Logan, Suzanne, 2011. "All RECs Are Local: How In-State Generation Requirements Adversely Affect Development of a Robust REC Market," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 8-25, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Munoz, Francisco D. & Pumarino, Bruno J. & Salas, Ignacio A., 2017. "Aiming low and achieving it: A long-term analysis of a renewable policy in Chile," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 304-314.
    2. Chen, Yihsu & Zhang, Duan & Takashima, Ryuta, 2019. "Carbon emission forensic in the energy sector: Is it worth the effort?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 868-878.
    3. Özdemir, Özge & Hobbs, Benjamin F. & van Hout, Marit & Koutstaal, Paul R., 2020. "Capacity vs energy subsidies for promoting renewable investment: Benefits and costs for the EU power market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    4. Özdemir, Ö. & Hobbs, B. & van Hout, M. & Koutstaal, P., 2019. "Capacity vs Energy Subsidies for Renewables: Benefits and Costs for the 2030 EU Power Market," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1927, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    5. Valentin Bertsch & Valeria Di Cosmo, 2018. "Are Renewables Profitable in 2030? A Comparison between Wind and Solar across Europe," Working Papers 2018.28, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. Zhang, Qi & Wang, Ge & Li, Yan & Li, Hailong & McLellan, Benjamin & Chen, Siyuan, 2018. "Substitution effect of renewable portfolio standards and renewable energy certificate trading for feed-in tariff," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 227(C), pages 426-435.
    7. Henao, Alvin & Sauma, Enzo & Gonzalez, Angel, 2018. "Impact of introducing flexibility in the Colombian transmission expansion planning," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 131-140.
    8. Munoz, Francisco D. & van der Weijde, Adriaan Hendrik & Hobbs, Benjamin F. & Watson, Jean-Paul, 2017. "Does risk aversion affect transmission and generation planning? A Western North America case study," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 213-225.
    9. Bertsch, Valentin & Di Cosmo, Valeria, 2020. "Are renewables profitable in 2030 and do they reduce carbon emissions effectively? A comparison across Europe," MPRA Paper 101822, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Woo, C.K. & Olson, A. & Chen, Y. & Moore, J. & Schlag, N. & Ong, A. & Ho, T., 2017. "Does California's CO2 price affect wholesale electricity prices in the Western U.S.A.?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 9-19.
    11. Meus, Jelle & Van den Bergh, Kenneth & Delarue, Erik & Proost, Stef, 2019. "On international renewable cooperation mechanisms: The impact of national RES-E support schemes," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 859-873.
    12. Wang, Ge & Zhang, Qi & Li, Yan & Mclellan, Benjamin C., 2019. "Efficient and equitable allocation of renewable portfolio standards targets among China's provinces," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 170-180.
    13. Bergen, Matías & Muñoz, Francisco D., 2018. "Quantifying the effects of uncertain climate and environmental policies on investments and carbon emissions: A case study of Chile," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 261-273.
    14. Wang, Ge & Zhang, Qi & Li, Yan & Mclellan, Benjamin C. & Pan, Xunzhang, 2019. "Corrective regulations on renewable energy certificates trading: Pursuing an equity-efficiency trade-off," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 970-982.
    15. Helgesen, Per Ivar & Tomasgard, Asgeir, 2018. "An equilibrium market power model for power markets and tradable green certificates, including Kirchhoff's Laws and Nash-Cournot competition," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 270-288.
    16. Go, Roderick S. & Munoz, Francisco D. & Watson, Jean-Paul, 2016. "Assessing the economic value of co-optimized grid-scale energy storage investments in supporting high renewable portfolio standards," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 902-913.
    17. Ramírez-Sagner, Gonzalo & Muñoz, Francisco D., 2019. "The effect of head-sensitive hydropower approximations on investments and operations in planning models for policy analysis," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 38-47.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aen:journl:ej37-4-sauma. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Williams). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.